Cheap hail-damaged vehicles flood Chch used car market

SuperValue Cars chief executive Mike Mackay.  Photo: Geoff Sloan
SuperValue Cars chief executive Mike Mackay. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Shopping for a second-hand car usually guarantees a cheap buy. But a new range of vehicles hitting the market brings a different meaning to the word ‘bargain’: Hail-damaged cars.

An estimated 10,000 vehicles were damaged when golf ball-sized hailstones pelted Timaru in November and now they’re slowly making their way into the Christchurch market.

A specialised Queensland-based company – Hail Response Team, which chases hailstorms all over the world, set up a temporary shop in Timaru. But the damage was so widespread, wait time for repairs reached eight to 10 weeks.

SuperValue Cars on Colombo St, currently having a ‘hail sale’, is selling cars with minimal cosmetic damage, which they believe provide a more sustainable approach than the cars ending up at the wreckers.

Said SuperValue Cars chief executive Mike Mackay: “A lot of these cars are going to scrap yards and having their engines and transmissions removed and the rest of the car is crushed. The engines and transmissions are then sold overseas, to the Middle East,” he said.

“It’s a terrible waste of these cars, especially with the little cosmetic damage they have. This way we get to sell them a lot cheaper and sell them to someone who perhaps couldn’t afford the same thing otherwise.”

Can you spot the hail damaged on this car roof? Photo: Geoff Sloan
Can you spot the hail damaged on this car roof? Photo: Geoff Sloan
Mr Mackay said the second-hand car market is “very tight” at the moment and this summer has been tough for the company.

After only a few days, the dealership has sold about seven hail-damaged cars.

But there’s no good deal without a catch. Last month, the Insurance Council of New Zealand warned buyers to get hail-damaged vehicles checked before purchase to ensure they are structurally sound, otherwise, they could risk not being insured or expensive insurance costs.

ICNZ chief executive Tim Grafton encouraged anyone considering buying the car to speak with their insurer about what type of cover and premiums were available, along with any special terms of conditions. “We advise people to complete their due diligence and understand exactly what they are buying, especially if they are unable to inspect the vehicle prior to purchasing it.”