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Thinking of buying a second hand car in KZN? You may want to check for flooding damage

An image shared cross social media of a golf 6 GTI trapped during the floods in KwaZulu-Natal. Image: Facebook/South Africa Uncut.

An image shared cross social media of a golf 6 GTI trapped during the floods in KwaZulu-Natal. Image: Facebook/South Africa Uncut.

Published Apr 21, 2022

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Durban - The recent floods that swept through KwaZulu-Natal, claiming over 400 lives, have left residents uncertain about the future, but as the aftermath of the devastation unwinds, consumers should tread cautiously when making vehicle purchases, warns an automotive company.

As record-breaking rains hit KZN last week, many businesses and homes went under water for days, causing damages amounting to billions of Rands, according to the provincial government.

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According to Ultra Racing, a Johannesburg-based automotive company, residents should be wary when purchasing a vehicle that may have flood damage.

Ultra Racing’s Muhammed Mia said that taking an expert or a mechanic with you to view a car, can be helpful if you are trying to spot water damage.

Mia said consumers should look out for electrical damage to the car, rust and other spots that may show signs of damage.

Given the fact that businesses may be trying to recover losses caused during the floods, potential buyers should not be afraid to ask as many questions as possible before making a purchase.

The Toyota plant in Prospecton was also flooded when Durban was pounded by rain. Picture: Motor Industry Staff Association (MISA).

“Mildew, wet spots and musty odours are all signs that a car has probably been exposed to a great deal of water. Once these smells have seeped in, it is very hard to completely get rid of them. If you’re looking at a used vehicle, get in and close all the doors and windows. Sit in the car for a few minutes and then crack the door open just a bit to see if you smell anything unusual.

“Make sure you turn on the air conditioner, as well, to see if there are any strange smells coming from the vents. You should also be cautious of overly strong air fresheners, which are often used to cover up smells associated with water damage.

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“If a section of a vehicle’s interior is a different shade or appears newer than the surrounding carpet, it could be a sign that the car has seen water damage. Check underneath every seat. Look for material that has been cut and sewn over.

“Inspect the car’s electronics and gauges in the instrument panel. Look for moisture that has been trapped behind the plastic. Grab your flash light and look under the dashboard and in the console. Condensation behind the radio face or gauge cluster could mean the car was flooded. Insert a CD and play it, or if the vehicle is equipped with USB ports, then test these too, as these components are difficult to replace individually.

“The most audible difference is when the paper membrane on the speaker cone gets wet and then dries, it is prone to break after some time. The sound you will hear from the speakers with a broken cone is horrible and noticeably alters sound quality and clarity,” Ultra Racing said.

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