Buyers' advice, industry, Motoring News, Vehicle sales

Gautengers: Don’t sink cash into a flood-damaged vehicle

LONDON, England – HPI, part of global leader in risk and asset management data and software solutions for the insurance and automotive industries, is urging people to be aware of the dangers of buying flood- and water-damaged vehicles with temptingly low price tags.

It’s particularly apt given the deluge that has for the past week soaked and flooded large parts of Johannesburg, Pretoria and Gauteng province and put probably hundreds of vehicles under water.

More than 730 000 written-off cars are uncovered globally every year – more than 2000 a day – by HPI. Unfortunately such flood-damaged cars are being offered for sale by unscrupulous sellers who won’t always declare to buyers that they are insurance write-offs.

It’s likely to happen in Gauteng, so read on for advice…


Fernando Garcia, consumer director at HPI, told The Corner: “It’s not illegal to professionally repair and sell Category C and D insurance write-offs but those that have been declared a Category A and B write-off are only good for scrap or spares.

”They should NEVER be returned to the roads.”

Unfortunately fraudsters are willing to patch up and disguise written-off vehicles for sale to unsuspecting or cash-strapped buyers.”

A flood-damaged vehicle that hasn’t been appropriately repaired is likely to need engine components wholly replaced to ensure they work safely and correctly. Brakes, starter motors and catalytic converters can fail at any point and pose a risk to drivers, their passengers, and pedestrians.


However, there’s an added danger for buyers in that some car owners may innocently try to sell on their flood-damaged vehicle, once its interior has dried out and has been professionally cleaned, as these owners may be uninformed that the vehicle remains potentially hazardous.

While the owners are genuinely unaware of the hidden dangers that flooding may have caused to the mechanicals of the car, omitting its history to a potential buyer will leave the new owner in the dark about its real condition.

Garcia added: “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.

“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.”

Here’s 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 footwells 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 and see how quickly the windows steam up
  • Don’t take the risk – Check to find out if the car was written-off.

HPI also suggests 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 for damage and expose any problems before an offer is made.

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