Buyer Beware As Flood-Damaged Cars Hit Car Market Check-List On How To Protect Yourself From ‘Unknowns’ When Buying Used Cars

With thousands of flood-damaged cars hitting the used car and auction markets this year, Australians are being warned to check a vehicle’s history before making a purchase.

David Scognamiglio, Head of Australia’s most comprehensive consumer vehicle research site, said while some will be advertised as flood damaged, there’s no obligation for private sellers to disclose this information.

The warning comes after a national survey of 1,000 Australians in the market for a used car found that less than 16% of respondents said they would conduct an enquiry to check for written off status of a vehicle.*

This is despite 44% of those surveyed stating they had an increased concern about potential flood damage to used vehicles – with a significant 6% of those surveyed saying they or a member of their family had become a victim of fraud or deceit in relation to purchasing a used vehicle in the last 12 months.   The average cost of the fraud was $2470 per incident.

Mr Scognamiglio said the research suggests many buyers are unaware of simple steps they can take to protect themselves.

“There has never been a more important time to ensure the history of a car is understood prior to entering into a sale. With flood and cyclone damaged vehicles, there may be expensive, hidden problems which don’t come to light for some time. Even new vehicles affected by floods will not carry manufacturer warranties,” he said.

“Flood-damaged cars can move between state boarders, with different rules applying in all districts.  With car repairers strained to the limit, some of the salvageable cars are simply being washed and offered for sale as they stand. A written-off check on only one state registry will not include information on whether this vehicle has been flood damaged in other Australian states or territories.

“What buyers may not be aware of is that for $30, they can get a Carhistory Report that checks what has happened to that particular car in any state and territory,” he said. has devised a checklist for flood-damaged vehicles.

What to Look for When Buying a Used Car:

  • Check the glove box for a tide mark
  • Look under the seat mountings for signs of water
  • Look out for debris in suspension components
  • Open the fuse box and check for debris or rust
  • Lift seat covers and inspect original fabric
  • Inspect the carpet and check for a musty/damp smell
  • Get a Carhistory Report to determine if the vehicle was written-off due to flood or storm damage anywhere in Australia. brings together extensive data on millions of vehicles from several industry and Government databases. Each report includes: the vehicle details, any outstanding finance (REVs check) recorded on the vehicle, a written-off or stolen check, current valuation, odometer checks, sales listings and safety and omission ratings. Reports can be purchased instantly by entering the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).

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