Car buyers are accustomed to being asked if they want their new vehicles rustproofed. Opinion on the practice is divided. Some consider it a rip-off while others maintain it a must. Still, it's expected. Rain is something that can cause slow damage to a vehicle over an extended period of time. We're used to it.
Given recent weather events, however, it seems possible that in the not-too-distant future, we'll be asked if we want our new cars "flood-proofed." This fact has been reinforced globally over the last few years. Europe and Asia have been hit with terrible floods and, in the last few months, Canadians have felt it firsthand, most severely in Calgary, where floods caused terrible financial and personal loss. What was most strange was that no Calgarians seemed to complain. They just sucked it up, cleaned it up and got on with the Stampede.
Flooding was also felt recently in Toronto where floods caused inconvenience, financial loss and a chance to post Photoshopped pictures of Mayor Rob Ford doing cannonballs into the flooded Gardiner Expressway. People complained a lot.
All these modern floods share a common central image – a meme if you will – photographs of carbon-spewing automobiles immobilized by flash floods. These troubled waters do not discriminate. They consume all forms of vehicles from flashy Ferraris to run-down Impalas. Since cars are blamed by many for creating the climate change that may be triggering this extreme weather, pictures of submerged cars (consider them "caughtomobiles") could easily be shown under the headline: "Caution: May Cause Irony."
So, what can be done in our new Waterworld? The obvious solution might be an alternative to fossil fuel and an increase in modes of transportation that aren't as carbon-emitting. But I'm not a fan of fairy tales and, given the track record of the human race, such dramatic actions are likely until circumstance grow even graver. Until say, Kevin Costner makes Waterworld II.
Instead, let's tackle the most pressing issues and, if we still have time and energy, we can move on to the big problems.
First on the agenda: Illegal Sale of Flood Damaged Vehicles
Folks in Saskatchewan are anxious about their province being swamped with flood-ravaged cars from Alberta and citizens of Manitoba and Quebec are no doubt worried about getting water-logged automobiles from Ontario. They shouldn't be so concerned. It's easy to spot a flood-damaged car.
Here's a quick checklist:
1. The car's Carfax Vehicle History Report says, "Flooded."
2. Fish in the car.
3. When you open the car door, gallons of water pour out.
4. Just smells kind of floody.
5. Has rust on its rust.
Next up: Automobile Insurance
Most victims of the flood want to know if their car is covered by insurance. Well, it's a "good-news, bad-news" situation. The good news is if you have comprehensive insurance, which covers you for events not connected to the operation of your vehicle, then you're probably covered.
The bad news is you probably don't have comprehensive insurance since many people don't walk around assuming that their car will one day be turned into a giant aquarium.
How can we as drivers adapt to our new aquatic reality? As with any other challenge, we need to look to technological innovation and good old-fashioned common sense. Here are a couple of options we can put into play.
The Auto Trader needs to publish a magazine exclusively for flood-damaged cars. They could call it "Water Trader." Why stigmatize these vehicles apart from their obvious maintenance and safety issues. For starters, let's stop calling them "flood-damaged" and start referring to them as "water-occupied."
A typical ad could run like this:
2012 Dodge Dart. Pre-owned. No Accidents. Was submerged in water for three days. Perfect for short trips – you are likely to get at least one or two out of it. Asking Price: A 40 assorted pack of Timbits or best offer.
We need to think outside the box. For instance, why not have under-car airbags? When a flood occurs, you simply activate the airbags and your car floats. In 2011, the owner of a Porsche 911 in Kentucky saved his car by floating it on an inflatable raft that he tethered to his garage. These should be standard in all new automobiles.
For those who are in immediate need, there is hope. It's been reported that the James Bond submarine car from The Spy Who Loved Me would be put up for auction in September. The car is a Lotus Esprit Series 1 and is fully operational. Bond cars traditionally sell high – up to $4-million. So you'd have to really want it, but for the driver who is tired of watery mishaps it might be the perfect gift.
Follow Andrew Clark on Twitter: @aclarkcomedy