Cat D - what you need to know

Don't write off a write-off. Buying a car with a Cat D history can offer savings if you take precautions. Here's all you need to look out for...

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Matthew Burrow
4 Dec 2014 12:20 | Last updated: 14 Jun 2018 00:03

Category D cars tend to jump out at you when you're browsing the classifieds. They often cost thousands less than a 'regular' car so are very tempting, but are Cat D cars worth the gamble?

A Category D write-off can often be caused by moderate damage. If the damage is minor, why wouldn't the insurance company pay to repair the car? Well, the cost of insurance claims is made up of more than just the repairs. 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.

Here are our six top tips for buying a Cat D write-off:

Buy the car from a dealer instead of a private seller

If you buy a Cat D car from a dealer you have more consumer rights. A car dealer has to declare everything they know about a car; a private seller only has to make sure the car is as described.

Ask lots of questions

What damage did the car sustain? Where were the works carried out? What parts were replaced? The insurer doesn't have to release any information about how the car became a write-off, but some well targeted questions to the dealer can help you uncover what happened.

Get an inspection

This will cost you upwards of £200, but is well worth it. An inspector knows what to check and could find accident damage that was missed. The AA, RAC, Dekra and Autolign all offer inspection services and could save you from buying a car that's potentially unsafe.

Pay for a history check

What if the accident isn't the only thing you need to think about? A history check will show up if the car has been stolen or is subject to any outstanding finance.

Be wary of newer cars with big savings

It could suggest that the repair work has been done to a budget and isn't of satisfactory quality.

Avoid cars that could have chassis damage

Chassis damage will continue to cause headaches even if a repair has been attempted.

If you think a Cat D car is worth the gamble and you've decided to buy one, there are two further things to consider:

Make sure you tell your insurance company that the car's a Cat D. Otherwise you risk having any claim turned down in the future.

Some used warranty suppliers will provide cover for Cat D cars.