As we enter the peak period for secondhand car sales (following an influx of part exchanges against new 18 plate models), a survey of 100 consumers by vehicle history checker mycarcheck.com found that 89% were unaware of the recent write-off category changes.
In October 2017, the old A, B, C and D categories were replaced with new codes, which focus on safety rather than the cost of repair: A (scrap), B (break), S (structurally damaged repairable) and N (non-structurally damaged repairable).
Background info Into The new Code System:
Safety: A write-off is an accident damaged vehicle which an insurer decides is either beyond repair or too expensive to fix. Category A (e.g. burnt-out by fire) and B (e.g. major rear-end shunt) write-offs should never return to the road. Category S (e.g. collapsed crumple zone) write-offs will be unsafe until they have been professionally repaired. Category N (e.g. cosmetic or electrical issue) write-offs are often simply uneconomical to repair.
Value: Leaving the safety aspect aside, there’s the impact on desirability and value to consider with S and N (and the old C and D) grade write-offs. A category N write-off which has had cosmetic damage repaired will generally be worth about 25% less than a similar vehicle with clear history. As to the impact on desirability, in a survey a couple of years ago, 79% of mycarcheck customers said they wouldn’t buy a write-off.
Insurance: Some insurers will check the history of vehicles and can refuse to cover them or charge higher premiums. In the event of a claim, if it is discovered the vehicle has been previously written-off, they might offer a smaller amount to reflect the market value.
With information from the police, DVLA, insurers and finance houses, mycarcheck.com holds comprehensive data on every vehicle on UK roads – things that buyers should be aware of before making an offer.