A staggering 237 thousand written off cars are uncovered every year by hpi, provider of the hpi check®, as being offered for sale by sellers who won’t always declare to buyers that they are insurance write-offs. However, warns hpi, with the used car market anticipated to be swamped with flood damaged cars in the coming months, the risk of purchasing a write-off could significantly be on the rise and buyers are being urged to take the necessary precautions.
Whilst it’s not illegal to professionally repair and sell Category C and D insurance write-off cars, those that have been declared a Category A and B write-off are only good for the scrap heap or should be broken down for spare parts; they should never be returned to the roads. Unfortunately, there are fraudsters willing to patch up and disguise written off vehicles and sell them on to unsuspecting buyers for a quick profit.
The risk with unwittingly buying a water damaged insurance total loss, that hasn’t been properly repaired, is that engine components that have been flooded need to be completely replaced to ensure they work correctly. Brakes, starter motors and catalytic converters can fail at any point and pose a risk to drivers, their passengers and pedestrians.
However, there’s an added danger in the coming months for buyers in that some car owners may innocently try to sell on their flood damaged vehicle, once its interior has dried out and has been professional cleaned, oblivious that it is potentially hazardous. Whilst they are genuinely unaware of the hidden dangers that flooding may have caused to the mechanics of the car, omitting its history to a potential buyer will leave the new owner in the dark about its real condition.
Neil Hodson, deputy managing director of cap hpi concludes, “To avoid landing yourself with a nightmare on wheels, rather than your dream car, we urge you to conduct a vehicle history check that will tell you if the car has been declared an insurance write-off and importantly, what category write-off it is. It’s really important to understand that not all written off cars should be avoided. Category C and D write-offs that have been professionally repaired and declared roadworthy can present a bargain for buyers. In a repaired state, cap Black Book estimates a category write-off vehicle is normally worth 50% – 70% of its pre-accident value, so if you’ve conduced an hpi check and know the car has history, you will be armed to negotiate a good deal.
“Furthermore, with a growing number of flood damaged cars that haven’t been subject to an insurance claim returning to the roads in the coming months, buyers should get an independent inspection from an expert engineer who will check for faults and damage to expose any problems before an offer is made.”
The hpi check gives used car buyers the confidence they need to shop around knowing they can find out a vehicle’s hidden history with the click of a button. In addition to confirming if a vehicle has been written off, the hpi check includes a mileage check against the National Mileage Register as standard, now with over 200 million mileage readings. It also confirms whether a vehicle is currently recorded as stolen with the police or has outstanding finance against it.
hpi’s Used Car Flood Damage Check List
• Are the electrics fried? Check that the windows open and close.
• What’s that smell? Does the interior of the car smell damp or musty or is the seller trying to mask it with air freshener.
• Damp underfoot? Feel the foot wells to check that the carpet is dry and check if there is condensation on the inside of the windows.
• Is that rust? If there are signs of rust or corrosion, check that it matches the age of the car and the car’s mileage.
• Pop up the bonnet – Don’t forget to check under the bonnet for signs of damp or rust.
• Shine a light – Take the car for a test drive and check that the lights all work on the dashboard.
• It’s getting hot in here – Put the heating on – how quickly do the windows steam up?
• Don’t take the risk – Conduct an hpi check to find out for sure.
The ABI Categories of ‘Write off’
Category A Scrap only – i.e. with few or no economically salvageable parts and of value only for scrap metal e.g. total burnouts. These vehicles should not appear on the road.
Category B Break for spare parts if economically viable. These vehicles should not reappear on the road.
Category C Repairable total loss vehicles where repair costs exceed the vehicle’s pre-accident value.
Category D Repairable total loss vehicles where repair costs do not exceed the vehicle’s pre-accident value.