Auto dealers to provide special deals for flood-damaged cars

Andi Haswidi, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

To assist customers whose cars have been damaged by the worst Jakarta floods in living memory, carmakers and dealers are preparing special "repair packages", and will also extend workshop hours.

"Based on our experiences in 2002, we are now preparing service packages for the repair of flood-damaged vehicles," said Jodjana Jody, sales general manager at Toyota Astra, the country's largest car producer.

Jody said that consultations would be held with service advisors in the workshops on how to handle the damage caused by the floods.

The floods in Jakarta over the last number of days damaged thousands of cars. The damage was not confined to vehicles that were attempting to pass through floods, but also affected cars parked at residences after floodwaters rose as high as 1.5 meters in some areas due to the heavy rain that started Thursday night and continued until Sunday.

This year's floods are widely regarded as being worse than the massive floods that hit Jakarta and its surrounding areas in February, 2002.

However, no Toyota official dealerships or workshops were inundated, even though the floods affected some 60 percent of the city.

"We will make sure that all spare parts are on hand and that our workshops stay open longer," Jody said.

Regarding the "service packages", Jody said that they would be based on how badly the car's engine had been affected by the water, and that the cost would likely range from Rp 3.5 million up to more than Rp 10 million.

"In some of the cases in 2002, drivers kept on trying to proceed even though the engine was covered by water. This is where the 'water hammer' effect kicks in. Water gets sucked into the engine, causing piston failure," Jody said.

"Electrical equipment and seating normally need to be replaced after water damage. For the seating in a Toyota Kijang, it could cost up to Rp 4 million," he explained.

Jody said that drivers should turn off their engines after the water goes over the engine hood, and wait until the water has drained out of the engine before starting it up again.

Besides Astra, Honda is also considering providing special service packages to its customers.

"We haven't decided about what we will do in relation to the floods as we have only had a few emergency calls so far. Perhaps our customers are busy with more pressing things besides fixing their cars," said Honda sales general manager Jonfis Fandy.

"However, we provide a 24-hour towing service for our Odyssey, Accord and New Civic customers. So far, we have pulled out three cars from the floods," he said.

Like Toyota, Jonfis said that service packages would likely be made available in Honda workshops over the next few weeks.

"The most common thing that happens when a car becomes submerged is damage to the electrical circuits. They usually burn out because the car is still running when the water breaches the circuit insulation," he explained.

Meanwhile, PT BMW Indonesia said it already provided a comprehensive, 24-hour hot-line service for customers in trouble, with the help on offer including free towing.

"All of our customers are aware of the emergency hot line. Should anything happen, we will always tow the car to the nearest workshop. We were fortunate in that none of our workshops were affected by the floods," said corporate communications director Helena Abidin.
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