SGI advises public to beware of flood-damaged vehicles

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If you’re thinking about buying a vehicle from Alberta, be cautious of damaged vehicles coming from areas affected by the recent flooding.

Many flood-damaged vehicles are not eligible to be registered for use in Saskatchewan or in any other Canadian province. However, due to the extent of the flooding in Alberta and the number of vehicles affected, there may be a delay in the identification of flood-damaged vehicles by insurers. Also, in situations where the flood damage is not covered by insurance, the vehicle’s history may not show a claim to indicate the vehicle sustained flood damage.

“Flooding can cause serious electrical and structural damage to a vehicle, putting you and your family at risk,” said Lyle Mosiondz, Assistant Vice President, Auto Fund Vehicle and Support Services. “It’s really a case of buyer beware. Make sure any vehicle you’re considering buying from Alberta is safe and eligible to be registered in Saskatchewan by thoroughly researching its history prior to completing the sale.”

Flood damage to a vehicle’s electrical system can affect important vehicle safety systems, such as airbags, anti-lock braking (ABS) and electronic stability control (ESC) systems. The vehicle’s structural components, specifically designed to protect the occupants and absorb collision energies in the event of a crash, can become corroded. Toxic contamination due to untreated waste and mold is also a concern.

Though all vehicles purchased outside of Saskatchewan must be inspected prior to registration, you can’t rely solely on the inspection since the effects of flood damage may not be readily apparent or easily identified. As a result, it's important that you’re confident in the vehicle's history before you consider buying it. One way to protect yourself is to buy from a licensed dealer. If you decide to purchase from a private seller, consider these tips:

• Research the vehicle’s history using SGI’s Cross-Canada VIN search or a third-party site such as CarProof.

• Ask the seller about damage and ensure that their response is documented, in writing, prior to the sale.

• Look for signs of water damage, such as moldy or damp odours, or any signs of rust or mud in the trunk, vents, or glove box, under the seats or dashboard, or on the carpet. Also check under the hood for signs of water or silt.

• Test the heater, air conditioner, lights, turn signals, gauges, radio, cigarette lighter and windshield wipers, to ensure water has not impacted electrical systems.

• Have the vehicle inspected by a certified technician prior to purchasing and specifically have them check for signs of flooding and water damage.

To access SGI’s Cross Canada VIN search, or for more information about the vehicle inspection process, visit SGI’s website at

Organizations: Auto Fund Vehicle and Support Services, Saskatchewan Government Insurance

Geographic location: Alberta, Saskatchewan

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