Flooded vehicles appearing in auctions

Cars and vans that were badly damaged by winter floods in the UK are starting to appear for sale on used vehicle markets.

Vehicle data firm Glass’s has found vehicles that are usually Category C and D insurance write-offs have been repaired and are appearing in the market. Some vehicles are clearly described as such but others are being sold as if nothing had happened.

Rupert Pontin, head of valuations, said, ‘The recent floods were widespread and a lot of cars and vans will have been significantly damaged and often written off by insurers. Inevitably, some of these will have been bought and returned to a roadworthy condition.

‘However, no matter how good the repairs, category C or D vehicles are worth a lot less than their undamaged counterparts – usually somewhere between 25-50% below market value.

‘If the seller is being completely open about this, then the buyer is aware of the risk they are taking and everything is above board, but there are always some dishonest sales of this type taking place after major incidents and we are starting to hear anecdotal evidence at the moment.’

Rupert also noted the highest risk tended to be from vehicles bought where there was a limited degree of redress.

He added, ‘Sometimes, a buyer only finds out that the vehicle has been flood damaged when they receive the V5 registration document or if they try and insure the vehicle and find it has been marked as Category C or D on the insurer’s database.

‘If you have bought from anywhere other than a reputable dealer, it can be very difficult to get any kind of legal redress and a refund or compensation.’

In advice to buyers, Rupert said that there were tell-tale signs for buyers to look for, including musty interior smells, water marks on fabric and electrical system issues.

He also said, ‘The difficulty with flood-damaged cars is that the issues caused by water may not become apparent for some time. Corrosion of many kinds of metal parts is often not evident until things start to go wrong, sometimes years later.

‘Our advice to potential buyers is that if they have any doubt about a car or van at all, just walk away. It is simply not worth taking a risk.’