Over the past few years second hand car sales have increased considerably, mainly due to the fact that the recession has led to less people being able to afford new cars. The reputation of second hand vehicles has also improved, as people now see them as a more economic option than buying a brand new vehicle that will decrease in value in a short period of time.
Part of the reason that the reputation of second hand cars has improved is that car dealers have been actively promoting their reliability and dispelling previous concerns that a vehicle which has been previously owned may be prone to breaking down or have undisclosed issues. Some of the most well-known car manufacturers, along with dealers throughout the UK, have also started offering their customers warranties and other after sales packages with their second hand models in order to improve sales.
However, there is still a certain amount of danger when it comes to investing in second hand cars, especially if they are purchased privately. Recently, storms across the UK have destroyed thousands of vehicles, and unfortunately some drivers are choosing to trade them in instead of claiming on their car insurance. David Bruce, director of the used car dealer AA Cars, has warned traders that these cars are generally write offs, as if a car is damaged by floodwater insurers will write it off seventy per cent of the time.
He added: “While a car can be dried out with no obvious visual damage, immersion in floods can store up a range of potentially costly or dangerous problems that could emerge at a later date. For instance, catalytic converter and exhaust system life can be seriously compromised and there can be host of potentially serious electrical problems – including airbags spontaneously going off with a risk of injury. Many owners may not tell their insurer that their car has been affected by flood water and attempt to dispose of it through the used car market, passing on potentially disastrous problems to an unwitting buyer.”
The AA has also reported that a number of the vehicles they’ve had to rescue over the past month have been 4x4s, as owners assume they can drive through floodwater without damaging their vehicles. Unfortunately, most 4x4s in the UK are not designed to withstand large amounts of flood water, and many drivers don’t properly know how to drive through deep water without damaging their vehicles. Even the smallest amount of water passing through an air intake can write off a vehicle’s engine, so driving at too high speed through flood water is extremely dangerous.
Discussing 4x4s, David Bruce said: “Our flood rescue crews say that many 4×4 drivers have gone through deep water only to find that the ‘off road’ capability does not extend to flood water.” He went on to advise all drivers not to attempt to drive through flood water that is any deeper than ten centimetres, and if they are unsure not to risk it as if their car is damaged it will more than likely be written off. Unfortunately, there are still those that don’t heed this advice, and with the storms set to continue it is expected for more owners to try and sell flood damaged vehicles to motor traders.
This is why it is extremely important for motor traders to perform thorough checks on every vehicle they receive, otherwise they could find themselves selling on an unfit vehicle unwittingly. Not only is this dangerous, but it could also lead to your reputation as a dealer being damaged, or a customer deciding to launch legal proceedings. Furthermore, you could personally be involved in an accident due to a faulty vehicle, and even though your motor trade insurance will be able to cover the costs, you may be inconvenienced by the experience.
With the amount of good-quality second hand vehicles on the market decreasing it may be tempting for traders to jump at the chance of purchasing a vehicle without giving it a proper inspection, however in the long term this can be dangerous for your business. It is therefore of the utmost importance that car dealers remain vigilant over the next few months, and avoid buying vehicles which have any risk of being damaged by flood water.