More than 730,000 cars are written off each year – more than 2,000 a day – according to HPI, but unfortunately for consumers, more flood damaged cars previously written off are being offered for sale.
"It’s not illegal to professionally repair and sell Category C and D insurance write-off cars, but those that have been declared a Category A and B write-off are only good for the scrap heap or spares; they should never be returned to the roads," said Fernando Garcia, consumer director at HPI. "Unfortunately, fraudsters are willing to patch up and disguise written-off vehicles and sell them on to unsuspecting buyers."
If a flood damaged car hasn't been repaired properly, it'll likely need entire engine components replaced to ensure that the car can continue to work properly and safely. Brakes, starter motors and catalytic converters are other things that need to be looked at to keep drivers, passengers, and pedestrians safe.
What's more, buyers could unknowingly try to sell on their flood damaged cars later on down the line if the car's interior has dried out and has been professionally cleaned, oblivious to the dangers that the car could pose.
"We recommend that buyers considering a used bargain conduct a vehicle history check to reveal if the car has been declared an insurance write-off and importantly, what category write-off it is," said Garcia. "Not all written off cars should be avoided. Category C and D write-offs that have been professionally repaired and declared roadworthy can sometimes present a real bargain."
HPI’s Used Car Flood Damage Check List
• Are the electrics fried? Check that the windows open and close.
• What’s that smell? Does the interior of the car smell damp or musty or is the seller trying to mask it with air freshener?
• Damp underfoot? Feel the foot wells to check that the carpet is dry and check if there is condensation on the inside of the windows.
• Is that rust? If there are signs of rust or corrosion, check that it matches the age of the car and the car’s mileage.
• Pop up the bonnet – Don’t forget to check under the bonnet for signs of damp or rust.
• Shine a light – Take the car for a test drive and check that the lights all work on the dashboard.
• It’s getting hot in here – Put the heating on – how quickly do the windows steam up?
• Don’t take the risk – Conduct an HPI Check to find out if the car has previously been a write-off.
HPI recommends that due to a growing number of flood-damaged cars that haven’t been subject to an insurance claim likely to make a return to the roads, buyers should get a mechanic to check over the car for damage and expose any problems before they make any offer.