A survey of 100 secondhand car buyers conducted by recently found that 89% of people were unaware of changes to write-off categories. Two categories, until recently based on repair costs, now concentrate on safety rather than economical factors. Formerly categories C and D, the new S and N codes provide information on any repairable damage done to your potential new car.
Write-Off Codes Explained
Car write-off codes are incredibly important things to consider if you’re in the market for a secondhand car. Category A cars are Scrap, and should never return to the road. B for Break means there are salvageable parts from the car, but its body should be crushed. Category S (previously C) are Structurally Damaged Repairable – vehicles suffering from structural damage but can be fixed. Finally, Category N (formerly D) stands for Non-Structurally Damaged Repairable – cars that have suffered cosmetic rather than structural damage.
The latter category may be deceiving – if a new car receives as much as a minor scrape to its paintwork, it’s considered a Category N write-off. That’s why it’s especially important to understand what each new category stands for if you’re thinking of making a purchase.
Why You Should Care
There are several reasons why checking your car history is important. Safety is up there – write-offs are declared by insurers as beyond repair or too expensive to fix. Categories A, and B should never go back on the road, e.g. if they’ve been burnt out by fire or had a major rear-end shunt. Category S (e.g. a twisted chassis) should undergo professional repairs to make them safe. Category N write-offs are usually just uneconomical to repair – e.g. if an electrical fault has occurred.
Additionally, you could stand to lose money on a write-off. If you’re intending to sell or part-ex your car in the future, consider that a Category N write-off will usually be worth 25% less than a similar car with a clear history. Furthermore, 79% of customers said desirability was affected by a write-off.
Getting insurance for your used car can also be difficult if it’s been written off. Some insurers check the car’s history, and may offer less compensation in the event of a claim.
We’re now in an especially busy period for secondhand car sales – the new 18 plates have been released. This means older cars are being part-exchanged for newer models. Mark Bailey, head of CDL Vehicle Information Systems and mycarcheck.com owners, confessed his concern for the worrying new survey statistics. “The survey was conducted by our Glasgow call centre in early February and all of those asked were checking used vehicles worth over £1,000,” he said. “We are checking new category write-offs almost daily now, so the fact that 9 out of 10 people are unaware of them is a worry, especially when you consider that 4 of those who did know were motor traders.”
Mark went on to explain why the new changes are important for buyers. “More must be done to educate buyers about write-offs, so they can either decide they want nothing to do with them, or they go into it with their eyes open, fully aware of the risks. Safety is paramount and written-off vehicles have to be properly repaired in order to perform as they should in the event of a second crash.”
MyCarCheck – Feel Secure with Full History Checks
If you’re concerned about a car’s write-off history, mycarcheck gather data from the police, DVLA, insurers, and finance houses. They offer comprehensive information on every UK vehicle. It operates for major companies such as CompareTheMarket, Go-Compare, and Tesco. Visit their to learn more about the changes to write-off categories and to get a full history of any potential automotive investments before you buy.