Consumers are being warned that flood-damaged cars with dangerous faults are expected to find their way on to the used car market following the extreme weather conditions.
AA Insurance raised concerns that while insurers write off cars that have been immersed in flood water, some owners whose vehicles have dried out and appear undamaged may simply sell them on, without making a claim.
The broker, which estimates that insurers are facing claims of up to £14 million for cars written off by the bad weather, warned that cars which may appear undamaged after being immersed in water can be hiding potentially fatal faults.
Listing the problems that flood damage causes, Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance, said: "Catalytic converter and exhaust system life can be seriously reduced, wheel bearings could seize, brakes can be affected and alternator and starter motors could fail.
"In addition, water can seriously affect electrical and electronic systems including the airbags, which might go off unexpectedly - or not deploy when they should."
Mr Douglas said that a member of the AA Patrol recently had their arm broken when dealing with a car which had been immersed in flood water, after the airbag suddenly went off.
He warned: "Buyers should beware from buying from private vendors as they may have no comeback when problems emerge maybe after some weeks."
The AA said possible signs of a flood-damaged car include damp carpets and upholstery and the smell of air freshener masking a damp smell, large amounts of condensation on the windows, the airbag light not working properly and a whitish deposit underneath the oil filter cap.
The body has dealt with around 80 cars ruined by flood water over recent days and estimates that nationally about 2,800 cars have been affected, which equates to a total bill of £14 million, assuming each car is worth an average value of £5,000.