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Second Hand Cars: Categories Explained

Second Hand Cars: Categories Explained

As the second hand car market continues to soar, it is becoming increasingly hard for people on a tight budget to get a car that meets all of their needs. Occasionally there is, of course, a bargain to be had, but more often than not, if a car looks too good to be true, it most probably is. One way to get a lot of car for your money is to buy a car that has been previously written off.

Anyone that has trawled through ads to find a car will know the feeling of euphoria when you find a great deal, only to read the words “Cat S” or “Cat N” in the advert. This week, we take a look at the categories and explains what it means for you in terms of purchasing a car.

What is a write off?

An insurance will “write off” a vehicle when it is judged that the vehicle can’t be safely repaired, or that it will cost more to repair it than to replace it.

Categories explained

There are four categories: A, B, S and N. Categories A and B are for vehicles that are so badly damaged that they can’t be repaired; in the case of Cat A, this means that it must be destroyed without any parts being salvaged. Category B damage is slightly less severe, but still irreparable, which means that after it has been inspected by a qualified person, usable parts can be salvaged.

Cat S and N also mean that a car has been written off by the insurer. However, they don’t mean that it is damaged beyond safe repair. A Category S car has had some structural damage to the frame or chassis, but it has been inspected and deemed to be repairable. The insurance company, however, considers the repair cost to be too great when considering the car’s market value.

A Cat N vehicle has had some non-structural damage, meaning that the frame and chassis were unharmed, but according to the insurer, the cost of repairing the damage is greater than the value of the car. However, if the owner wishes to get a professional to undertake the repairs at their own cost, they can do so.

Buying a Cat S or N vehicle

When it comes to category A and B damage, the rules are clear: these vehicles are not fit to be on the road and should not be available to buy. However, it is possible to buy a Cat N or S vehicle and, provided that the damage has been repaired properly, you could get yourself a good deal. In general terms, a Category N vehicle is a safer bet as it hasn’t had any structural damage.

Before you buy a Cat S or Cat N vehicle, get a quote from your insurer and make sure that you or a professional have given the car a good inspection to ensure it is a good buy. If you are looking for a reliable used car, go via a car dealership. For more tips and advice, don’t forget to follow Trust A Garage on Facebook or Twitter.

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