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by Brett Davis

Secondhand buyers are being urged to take special care when buying a second-hand car these days, as the Queensland floods settle. The bid for consumers to take care comes after a recent study of 1000 buyers currently in the market revealed that only 16 percent of them said they would conduct substantial pre-purchase checks.

Of the 1000 surveyed buyers, six percent of them said they directly or indirectly through a family member had been subjected to the pointy end of a dodgy deal in the past 12 months. Recent findings say that these fraudulent sales had cost an average of $2470 to buyers, per sale. Around 44 percent of the buyers said they did have an increased concern over flood-damaged cars though since the flood devastation.

David Scognamiglio, Head of Australia’s Carhistory.com.au consumer vehicle research site, says buyers simply aren’t aware of the easy checks one can do to ensure piece of mind before purchasing. Scognamiglio said in a recent report,

“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 effected by floods will not carry manufacturer warranties.”

Scognamiglio expresses that consumers under threat are not only isolated to Queensland buyers, he says,

“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.”

Some simple checks buyers can do include:

  • 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

On top of this, buyers are also encouraged to have a $30 background check done on the car which can be done through Carhistory.com.au using the particular car’s Vehicle Identity Number (VIN).

The website is able to provide a comprehensive Carhistory Report on any car in the country using government databases. Each report includes details about if the vehicle was ever written-off or stolen, any outstanding finance (REVs check), sales listings, current valuation, odometer checks as well as providing safety and omission ratings.