Hefty bills await car owners

Force of nature: A car was overturned by strong water currents during the height of the floods which hit many parts of Johor.

JOHOR BARU: If your car has been submerged in floodwaters, be prepared to fork out about RM10,000 for repairs, says the Johor Automobile Repairmen’s Association.

Its chairman Ku Chong Sin said flood victims with water-damaged vehicles should also be prepared for a longer wait to get their cars fixed due to a shortage of workers and spare parts in the market.

“With many parts of Johor still experiencing floods, we expect to see cars getting towed into workshops in the next few days, depending on when the murky waters recede.

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“Cars that have been submerged will usually have electronic damage, engine problems and foul odour apart from scratches and dents to the external body.

“It costs a big sum of money to fix if the vehicle insurance does not cover floods,” he said when interviewed by The Star yesterday.

He added that repairs would take at least two weeks, with certain car models needing even longer.

Based on past experience, some vehicle owners would choose to sell their water-damaged cars rather than fork out a huge sum for repairs, he said.

According to Ku, there has been a shortage of vehicle spare parts since the Covid-19 pandemic – as a result of supply chain disruptions – and the situation has not improved much even after travel restrictions were lifted last year.

“The weaker ringgit is one of the factors causing the shortage as we cannot compete with other countries in the acquisition of spare parts, which are already quite limited in the market,” he said.

On the lack of skilled workers, Ku said many of them had flocked to Singapore to seek opportunities there.

“Also, there aren’t many young locals interested in learning automobile repairs,” he added.

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia school of mechanical engineering senior lecturer Dr Muhamad Hasbullah Padzillah advised consumers to add flood coverage the next time they renew their vehicle insurance.

“With the unpredictable weather and floods happening quite often these days, it is wise to spend a bit more on vehicle insurance to avoid having to fork out a bigger amount when hit by a natural disaster.

“Owners are advised to resist the urge to start their vehicle immediately after floodwaters recede as running the engine while the internal parts are still wet could cause further damage,” said the academician, who also shares automobile knowledge and tips on his YouTube channel.

Muhamad Hasbullah suggested that flood victims examine the watermark on their car body first.

“If the soiling is more than 10cm above ground, it is better to have the car towed to the workshop because a wet gearbox and engine, leading to hydrolock, can damage the vehicle further.

“With proper knowledge, water-damaged vehicles can still be saved by mechanics,” he added.

Continuous rain which started on Feb 28 has caused flooding in many parts of Johor, forcing tens of thousands of people to seek shelter at temporary flood relief centres.

It also left many cars submerged, overturned and wedged in ditches.

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