Beware flood-damaged cars, AA warns

28th November 2012

Bad weather doesn't only affect how we drive, it can also have a hidden impact on our cars, and the AA is keen to warn motorists who are considering purchasing a used car to watch out for flood-damaged vehicles.

Director of AA Insurance Simon Douglas explained that "catalytic converter and exhaust system life can be seriously reduced, wheel bearings could seize, brakes can be affected and alternator and starter motors could fail," as a result of flood damage.

He said that water can also have a significant impact on electrical and electronic systems, such as airbags.

The AA suggested that buying from a private seller could leave motorists without recourse, whereas an unhappy customer who purchased a vehicle through a car supermarket would be able to question the business, if unhappy with the sale.

Prospective buyers should be wary of cars which have windows left open in a bid to mask the damp smell.

Consumers are advised to remove the oil filler cap and check underneath it "if there is a witish, mayonnaise-like deposit (emulsified oil) under the cap, there is water in the engine", the AA warns.

Would-be buyers should also verify that the air bag warning lights are working, as a car which has been submerged in water may have sustained serious damage to these potentially life-saving devices.

Condensation inside the windows and water in the spare tyre are other indications that a car has been water-damaged.

Although it may seem like a waste of time, having an independent professional inspect the car you wish to buy will help to highlight any potential issues, and mechanics will be able to flag up any electrical faults, or problems with the bodywork.

Driving in heavy rain and trying to traverse floods can be difficult for even the most experienced of motorists.

The Highway Code states that drivers must use their headlights when visibility is limited to 100 metres.

Because stopping distances increase significantly on wet roads, motorists are advised to leave at least double the usual safe distance between you and the car in front.

Occasionally rain is so heavy that it affects a car's ability to steer, if this happens drivers should ease their foot off the accelerator and slow down at a gradual pace.

Motorists must never drive through fast-moving water and should only drive through standing water if it is not too deep.

The AA warns people to "drive slowly and steadily to avoid creating a bow wave" and highlights the importance of checking your brakes afterwards to ensure they are still working effectively.

Aquaplaning should be avoided at all costs. It happens when motorists drive too fast through standing water and their tyres lose contact with the road and you lose control of the steering.

Clearly it is best to avoid this happening, but the AA advises that if a car does start to aquaplane, you should "hold the steering wheel lightly and lift off the throttle until the tyres regain grip".

Stopping distances increase significantly on wet roads so ensuring that your tyres are in good shape and have the correct tread depth and pressure could make a real difference to your safety.

Visit ATS Euromaster to ensure your car is ready for all weather conditions

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