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A guide to buying a salvage car

  Friday, 24 November 2017

At ASM, we help modern motorists manage their driving finances.  Car salvage auctions are one of the main services that we offer, our online salvage auction offers over 2,500 cars, vans and motorbikes for sale every week and we have a further 1,500 vehicles for parts dismantling.  Today, we’re going to explain how any driver can benefit from purchasing a salvage vehicle from us.

What is a salvaged car?

Put simply, a salvaged car is one that an insurance company no longer considers fit for use on the road in its current state.  If a vehicle has been in an accident, stolen or weather-damaged and repairs will cost more than the vehicle is worth, the insurance company will write it off and take possession.

Insurance companies sell the vehicles on to us if the total damage exceeds a certain percentage of the value of the car and this can range from 75-90 percent.  These vehicles are declared a ‘total loss’ by the insurance company.  There are different salvage categories which are used to explain the type of damage to the vehicle and help a buyer know the history of the vehicle they are potentially going to own.

What does a salvage title mean?

There are different categories of salvage titles that insurers use to inform a buyer of the type and severity of damage that a vehicle has had.  These are provided by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) and split into four categories A, B, C and D:

Category A
This classification is for cars that have been so badly damaged they should be crushed and never re-appear on the road.  They are only suitable for scrap.  Even salvageable parts must be destroyed.
Category B
This signifies extensive damage, although some parts are salvageable.  The vehicle should never re-appear on road, however reclaimed parts can be used in other road-going vehicles.
Category C
This vehicle is repairable but the costs exceed the vehicle’s value.  They can re-appear on road once repaired.
Category D
The vehicle is repairable but repair costs are significant compared to the value, including any time delays to source parts.  These vehicles can re-appear on road.

There are two other categories, U and X.  Category U vehicles are not owned by an insurance company and may have sustained accident damage.  Be aware that they are not governed by the ABI categorisation guidelines, so unlikely to have been reported to the Motor Insurance Anti-Fraud Theft Register (MIAFTR).

Category X does not appear as an official label but can be considered the most desirable of salvage category, because after repair there is no record of the initial damage and cars are not recorded on the Hire Purchase Inspection (HPI) register.

When you’re looking at a car with a salvage title, the category is your starting point to understanding the vehicle’s history, so make sure you make a mental note of what each one means.

Check out our online auction here

Things to consider when buying a salvage vehicle

It’s important to do your homework when it comes to buying a car with a salvage title.  Here are our tips on finding the right vehicle to suit your needs:

  • Obtain full details of the vehicle. All salvaged cars are damaged in some way.  However, damage can vary substantially.  You should learn your categories for rating vehicle damage.  ‘A’ damage is terrible, ‘B’ is bad and ‘C’ and ‘D’ designated workable damage.
  • Try and inspect the car. Always ask if you can view the car up-front so you know what you’re actually bidding on.  This is especially important with salvage vehicles as there may have been damage that you need to see to understand how much repairs could be.
  • Look out for theft recovery vehicles. One category that you should look out for is theft recovery.  If a stolen car isn’t recovered within three weeks, then the insurance company will pay the original owner and write off the car as a complete loss.  However, if the car is then found it will often still be written off as salvaged.
  • Talk to insurers ahead of time. One of your biggest challenges will be getting your vehicle insured.  Look at deals for coverage as you browse potential purchases.
  • Buy from a reputable dealer. A company like ASM has over 30 years of experience in helping its customers get their hands on the highest quality salvaged vehicles available.  The last thing you want is to purchase a vehicle from a less-than-stellar firm, so be sure to give us a call.

To find out more, get in touch with ASM Auto Recycling today on 01844 268 940, and we’ll be happy to help you further.

Why should I buy a salvaged car?

One of the benefits of buying a salvaged vehicle is the price.  Salvaged cars can be bought at a fraction of the cost of other used cars.  What’s more, many insurance firms will write off a car for reasons other than major defects in the structure or mechanics, (that’s where the various salvage categories come in handy).

As a result, salvaged cars can offer outstanding value for money, with the buyer paying far less (including for the cost of repairs) than they would for the same vehicle in the used market.  Salvaged cars can be a complete bargain.

Can I insure a car with a salvage title?

The short answer to this question is yes.  Any car that is being driven on the road must have insurance of some kind.  However, when it comes to insuring a car with a salvage title you may find that there will only be limited cover offered to you and you may have to shop around a little to get the best deal.

Some insurance companies will only cover salvage vehicles for larger premiums (based on safety and other concerns), others will pay out hardly anything on claims because they think the vehicle has no value.  In the end, if you have done your homework, you should be able to get a suitable insurance policy for your salvage vehicle.

Can I register a car with a salvage title?

Up to October 2015, all cars notified to the DVLA as ‘written off’ within salvage categories A, B or C were required to pass a Vehicle Identity Check (VIC), conducted by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA), before the DVLA would issue a registration certificate V5C.  Now, a VIC test is no longer required and only category C vehicles can apply for a V5C.  Read more on our post: VIC scheme abolished: how does it impact you?

Can I drive a car with a salvage title?

Salvage title vehicles are fine to drive as long as you have registered it and have adequate insurance.  ASM Auto Recycling is widely regarded as one of the UK’s most modern and professional vehicle salvage agents and parts recyclers, so we can help you make the best decision when it comes to buying a salvage title.

Have more questions?

ASM now offers a selection of over 2,500 damage-repairable and stolen-recovered vehicles in our online car auction every week, so we have all the information and advice you need.  Give us a call today and we’ll be happy to help.

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