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Deluged cars may flood the market

New concerns of cars, fundamentally damaged from being waterlogged, filling the used-car market have potential buyers wary of buying second-hand, a consequence of July’s record downpour.

Although waterlogged cars can be restored back to proper working condition, experts voiced concerns that retailers could trick consumers into buying permanently damaged vehicles.

According to the Seoul Metropolitan Government and insurance companies, some 10,000 vehicles were swamped during the July 27 deluge. They predict that about 80 percent of those cars will roll into the second-hand market, after going through repairs.

Online forums for cars and second-hand marketplaces are starting to see posts offering to buy waterlogged cars at a high price. The majority of the posts are offering the highest prices possible for cars so severely damaged by water and mud that insurance doesn’t cover it.

Industry experts believe that many used car retailers are turning to the sudden abundant number of flood-damaged cars to meet the demand for used cars.

“More than 8,000 repaired cars, damaged from the floods, will flow into the market from the end of this month to early September,” said a used car salesman here.

It is difficult for regular consumers to tell if a car has been waterlogged after two to three months and nigh impossible for an expert one or two years later.

“I’m looking up information on used cars but hearing that deluge damaged cars will soon be in the market makes me nervous,” said one consumer.

“I am looking at posts that teach you how to tell if a car has been flooded.”

In order to lower anxiety, the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs has ordered the capital and its 25 districts to strengthen quality control enforcement of used-car dealerships.

Experts say consumers can check for themselves by pulling out the seatbelt all the way and looking for water marks or dirt, checking under the mats, and looking at the fuse box and the engine control unit.

By Robert Lee (robert@heraldcorp.com)
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