Know What You Are Buying?Jan 10, 2017
Most people know what a “write-off” is in terms of a car — it’s usually used in relation to insurance claims to mean a vehicle that is no longer useable after an accident, or at the least, is beyond the scope of the insurance over.
What a lot of people don’t realise, though, is that there are two types of write-off. One is very obvious — the vehicle is damage beyond repair and is clearly only useful for scrap. It’s hard to lie about this. the other is a “repairable” write-off, and these can be problematic for buyers. We’ll take a quick look at the two types, and how buyers can prevent themselves buying dodgy, or even dangerous, vehicles.
Total/Statutory Write-Off Vehicles
A “total loss” vehicle is marked for salvage and can only be sold for scrap. These vehicles are completely useless, and it has been verified that they’ve been in a major accident. A vehicle marked totally damaged are not safe to be driven on the road, and the damage is so severe that it’s risky — if at all possible — to ride in them.
The inspection officer will mark the vehicle as “too dangerous”, and it will be illegal to use the vehicle for personal or commercial purposes.
Repairable Write-Off Vehicle
These write-offs can be trickier for buyers to spot. A repairable write-off vehicle has been in an accident in the past, but could be road-worthy again if the damage is fixed. Once the appropriate repairs have been made, the vehicle can be re-registered and used again.
Understanding Codes of Written-Off Vehicles
There are three components to a write-off code for a vehicle: the type of incident, the location of the damage, or the severity. For example, a code of F20H translates to “Fire [Floor Plan (passenger rear)] Major Stripping”.
The meanings of these codes are detailed in tables explaining vehicle damage type, damage location, and severity on any damage report. These details are standardised and consistent across all documents. Even if you don’t understand the codes, there’s enough information given on the report to be able to work out precisely what you need to know.
Preventing Getting Ripped Off By A Write-Off
So if it’s possible for a seller to pass off a written-off vehicle as usable, how can buyers protect themselves?
PPSR reports, of course. A PPSR report will contain detailed information about the status history of the vehicle being inspected. If the vehicle has been written-off in the past, not only will you be alerted of this status, you’ll also get the full technical breakdown of the damage.
This is even useful if the seller has been completely honest with you regarding the status of the vehicle. Getting a comprehensive damage report will allow you to work out how much repairs will cost prior to buying the vehicle, and work the cost into your plans. You might discover that the vehicle is prohibitively expensive to repair, or it might even be a lot easier than you expect.