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Stay safe

  • Different types of write-off
  • How to pick up a bargain
  • Handle with care, however
Words ByWhat Car? Staff

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If youre considering buying a vehicle that has been written off and repaired, there are a couple of steps available that should help you stay out of trouble.

A vehicle history check will help to expose vehicles classed as write-offs, but you should also pay for a mechanical inspection.

Cars classified as Category A and B write-offs are registered with the DVLA to ensure that dangerous vehicles dont end up back on the used market. If a Category C write-off is repaired, it must undergo an identity inspection by the DVLA, and the car will not be issued with a V5C registration document until it has passed. However, the fact that the car was previously classified as a write-off will remain recorded on the V5C.

Essential used buying checks
Check the cars V5C registration document to make sure the VIN, engine number, colour and model exactly match the car for sale. Contact the DVLA on 0870 240 0010 to ensure the V5C is genuine.

Pay for a detailed vehicle history check, which will show if its been written off, and ensure the information on the report matches the car and the V5C.
www.hpicheck.com
www.autocheck.co.uk

If considering a Category C write-off, ask to see the
DVLA Vehicle Identity
Check paperwork.

Pay for a mechanical inspection to assess if the car is in road-worthy condition.
www.theaa.com
autoligninspections.co.uk
www.dekra-expert.co.uk
www.rac.co.uk
Category D and F write-offs can be repaired more easily and put back on the road, but you should take even more care inspecting these cars because no DVLA identity inspection is needed before they can be returned to the road and sold on.

Safe bet
A Category C, D or even F write-off will always be worth less than a normal car when you sell it on.
Alan Senior, from VIP DATA, says: A Category D vehicle will be worth between 15% and 25% less that a straight example. However, written-off prestige models that have been repaired can be difficult to sell.

Insurance companies can take a dim view of repaired write-offs, too. You may find that they charge a higher premium and offer a lower settlement if a write-off is repaired and then crashed again.

What car says
A previously written-off vehicle can be a route to a cheaper car, but youll need to invest some time and money to make sure the car is roadworthy and above board.

Weigh up the additional costs and hassle, and consider that the cars future value will always be considerably less than a car without a chequered past. If youre not comfortable, walk away its not worth the risk.