Beware of vehicle write-offs

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INCREASING numbers of accident damaged write-offs are finding their way back onto the used car market at what appear to be bargain prices.

That makes them particularly appealing to buyers looking to cut their motoring costs in these times of austerity.

In many cases, however, customers do not even know they have bought an accident damaged or stolen car, according to local motor trader Gary Robinson of Paragon Motor Company.

The code of practice governing how crashed cars can be disposed of – a voluntary agreement by groups including insurers, police and salvage and repair agencies - is drawn up around four categories, and it is cars in category D that is causing many motor traders most concern.

A category D car is one that has had accident damage that would cost less to repair than its value or been stolen and recovered after insurance company pay out. In both cases the car has been written off by the insurance company. They can be put back on the road perfectly legally if repaired properly but according to Gary Robinson most potential buyers will not have the faintest idea of what cat D really means and may be attracted by a cheaper price particularly by some private sellers who have no legal obligation to declare the cars history.

Insurer Swiftcover claims that that more than 100,000 accident write-offs re-appeared in the UK market in 2010, a 10% increase on the previous year which is worrying statistics with a number of online sites revealing plenty of young cat D cars on offer.

“This sort of thing is fairly common nowadays,” said Mr Robinson. “Like many reputable dealers we at Paragon Motor Company are seeing more people wishing to trade in vehicles, which, following our extensive checking procedures shows them to have previously been a write-off. I have heard instances of where people think cat D is some kind of an alarm. Once we have explained what this really means and the effect on its true value they are understandably horrified that they have been driving a car with adverse history.”