buying

What is Cat D? Everything you need to know about crash-damaged cars

Category D cars tend to jump out at you when you're scanning through the classified ads looking for your next car. They often cost thousands less than a 'regular' secondhand vehicle, so they are very tempting - but what are Cat D cars and are they worth the gamble?

Words ByClaire Evans

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There are four levels of damage used by the insurance industry to describe cars that have been involved in accidents. These levels, or categories as they're more commonly known, are labelled as A, B, C and D.

From October 2017 they are being replaced by a new selection of categories – dubbed A, B, S and N – which are designed to be easier to understand, making life easier for motorists.

Below, we've looked at both the current category system and the new system in detail.

The current system: A,B,C and D categories

Cat A cars

This type of car is the worst of the four. Vehicles in Cat A cannot even be used for salvage and should be crushed.

Cat B cars

These vehicles still have serious damage but they may be broken down for spare parts.

Cat C cars

These vehicles can be fixed, but the repairs alone will cost more than the car's market value, so it has been written off.

Cat D cars

As with Cat C vehicles, Cat D cars can be fixed - but the repairs will cost less than its market value. However, the insurance company's decision to repair the vehicle is dependent on more than the cost of the repairs.

A Category D write-off can often be caused by moderate damage. The insurance company also has to take into account the cost of a courtesy car and inspection fees once the repairs have been completed. So it might decide that it doesn't make financial sense to repair the Cat D car.

If that's the case, the insurer can decide to sell the car to an independent garage, which then repairs the car for less money and is able to sell it on to the public.

Let's say you find one of these Cat D cars in the classifieds. Is it worth looking at or should you move on right away?

If you've done your homework, know what to look out for and what questions you need to ask, you can pick up a real bargain.

Click through to the next page to find out what the new A,B,S and N categories mean for you.

Next: The new A,B,S and N categories explained >

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