Understanding Motor Salvage

The remains of a damaged vehicle which cannot be repaired economically, cannot or should not be repaired at all and so is written off.

What about buying a repaired write off?

Buying a car which is repaired salvage need not be as frightening or daunting as the press or such emotive wording as “repaired write-off” might have you believe, providing great care is excercised and expert help is sought and heeded.

To put it into some kind of context, many vehicles with relatively high values have more extensive damage repaired every day than older cars whose lower residual values rule out an economic repair because, by definition, a car worth more will stand the cost of a more expensive repair than one worth less and so could be extensively repaired without becoming a write-off.

How will I know if a vehicle is a previous write off or total loss?

At the moment there is no register I know of which records more extensively damaged but economically repairable vehicles to which the public has access and this means without an Expert’s inspection of a vehicle it is difficult to know if it has been repaired at all, let alone extensively repaired.

If the organisation which actually takes the decision to write off a vehicle – usually an Insurer, major fleet operator etc – records this on MIAFTR (Motor Insurer Anti Fraud & Theft Register) or at the DVLA (Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency) etc, there will be a marker on the vehicle’s record which is accessible to the consumer through HPi, for example.

However, If that organisation has no access to such systems, decides not to register that the car is a write off or the car is damaged beyond repair as a consequence of an accident or loss which is not pursued as an insurance claim, that it was ever damaged beyond economic repair would not be recorded.

Therefore, an examination by an Expert would be essential.

What is the write off procedure?

Following a decision to write a car off a record should be made of this.

Additionally, the salvage should be classified as one of 4 official Categories which are:

Category A:  This is non repairable salvage which could not or should not be repaired, has no salvageable parts to speak of, the body/structure should be crushed or destroyed and the vehicle should never reappear back on the road.

Category B:  Also non repairable salvage which could not or should not be repaired, has some salvageable parts and should never reappear repaired and back on the road.

Category S:  This is a repairable vehicle which has sustained damage to any part of the structural frame or chassis and a decision has been made not to repair the vehicle.

Category N:  This Category is reserved for repairable salvage which has not sustained damage to the structural frame or chassis and a decision was made not to repair the vehicle.  Whilst the damage to the vehicle is non-structural, there may still be some safety critical items that require replacement e.g. steering and suspension parts.

Repaired Salvage

There is no reason Category S or N salvage shouldn’t be repaired and put back on the road so long as it’s done safely and a repaired piece of motor salvage may well give as good service as other pre-owned cars might.

There will be the stigmatic effect on the vehicle and, inevitably, its value and that it is repaired salvage should be declared when selling or insuring it.

An Insurer might ask for an Engineer’s report on the car which should be done preferably after a new MOT Certificate has been issued and will check all sorts of other things the MOT Test does not but which could affect the safety and longevity of the vehicle.

Beware, though, even an MOT Test Pass issued after salvage is repaired is not verification alone that the repair is safe or to a good and proper standard because the MOT Test covers only the very basics and is not the all encompassing roadworthiness yardstick everybody mistakenly believes it to be nor does it vouch for a vehicle’s general condition.