Automotive dealerships and the professionals completing sales at these businesses are subject to disclosure requirements under the law. Generally speaking, consumers have a right to know about any existing defects with a vehicle, including a history of flooding or significant water incursion.
After all, water damage can cause significant issues for a vehicle that can impact its overall resale value and even someone’s ability to use the vehicle safely. Dealerships should, therefore, disclose water damage even if there are no visibly obvious signs of its occurrence.
It can cause mold growth
Anytime water seeps into dark, enclosed spaces, such as the upholstery of a vehicle, mold growth is theoretically possible. Getting mold out of a vehicle, especially from within the cushions and carpeting, can be an expensive and frustrating process. Ignoring the mold can be equaling problematic, as it could potentially lead to health issues for vehicle occupants.
It can cause rust and structural weakness
Water incursion can potentially compromise how safe a vehicle will be in a future collision. Rust develops often where people cannot see it and can slowly diminish the structural integrity of a vehicle. Extensive rust might mean that a vehicle doesn’t adequately protect someone if they get into a crash. If they resell the vehicle in the future, any inspection that uncovers the rust will likely help drive down the price of the vehicle and diminish how much someone receives for reselling it.
It can lead to electrical issues
Water damage to a vehicle could potentially affect the high-tech systems used for everything from maximizing fuel efficiency to tracking the performance of safety-critical systems in the vehicle. Damage to the electronic components of a vehicle or its wiring might eventually mean that there are system failures that seemingly develop with little explanation and which could cost thousands of dollars to repair. That damage might also mean that the vehicle does not operate as it should in an emergency, resulting in a crash that someone could have prevented with a vehicle in optimal condition.
Those who uncover signs of water damage, like rust, mold or corroded wiring, may have grounds to take legal action against a dealership that did not disclose the flooding or water damage prior to a purchase. Holding a dealership accountable for selling a vehicle in substandard condition can compensate a buyer and potentially motivate that dealership to change its disclosure practices in the future.