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Flood-damaged vehicles

Consumers should be aware that some people may try to sell water-damaged vehicles at bargain prices.

Insurers are warning customers about purchasing or importing vehicles that could have been affected by flooding. Both new and used vehicles may be flood-damaged. Flood-damaged vehicles don't qualify for on-road licensing or use in B.C. or anywhere else in Canada.

To protect yourself, try to buy a vehicle only from a licensed dealer.

Tips to check for flood damage

If you're planning on buying a new or used car from a private seller, here are some tips:

  • Ask about damage. Ask the seller directly whether the car has been damaged by water or anything else and get the answer in writing.

  • Check for water damage. Look out for:

    • damp or musty odours inside the vehicle and in the trunk

    • signs of rust and mud in the vents, trunk, glove box and beneath the seats and dashboard

    • rusty brackets under the seats or carpets, and 

    • discoloured upholstery or carpet that fits poorly or doesn't match exactly.

  • Test everything. Test the lights, windshield wipers, turn signals, cigarette lighter, and radio. Turn the heater and air conditioner on/off to make sure they work.

  • Research the vehicle's history. You can buy vehicle history reports with Canadian and American data from companies such as CARFAX Canada or Autocheck.

  • Get it inspected. If you think the vehicle may have been flood-damaged, have it inspected by a certified automotive technician who specializes in electrical and electronic diagnosis. Find an inspection facility near you (external).

  • Ask for the vehicle's registration. Note that the registration will only indicate flood damage if the seller's insurance company officially declared the car to have been salvaged.