Are you familiar with a the write off Category N? If not we're about to fill you in and get you up to speed on whether you can drive them after they've been written off and what you should consider before buying one.
The meaning of a written off vehicle?
Did you know that here in the UK, insurance companies use the term 'write-off' when describing a damaged car that has suffered too much damage to warrant the cost of repair?
Vehicle assessors will determine the cost to get a damaged car back on the road. If repairs exceed the value of the car, it will be classed as a write-off and placed into one of the four write off categories. Depending on the severity of the damage to the vehicle, it will fall into a particular category on a depreciating scale; A, B, S and N.
What is a Cat N car?
A Category N vehicle is a vehicle that has non-structural damage that cannot be fully repaired, says AutoTrader. In simple terms, a Category N is a car that has sustained some significant damage, usually in an accident, but it doesn't have any damage to its chassis or has suffered structural damage to its frame. It's sound structurally, it's just that the damage it has sustained will need to be fixed.
Once fixed, the Category N vehicle can then be put back on the road, and they don't need to be re-registered with the DVLA, says Car Plus. It's great news that Category N cars can be returned to the road, the main thing is to be wary when buying as some sellers may try to sell a Category N car as non-damaged. If you buy one without realising, you may be paying over the odds for it.
Tell me the significance of Cat N car damage?
A Cat N vehicle will have suffered some damage to it somewhere, even if it's not that obvious and you cannot visibly see it. Whatever damage it has suffered, it will need to be repaired.
Examples of the different kinds of damage that a Category N car can include are small things like chips and scratches, broken headlamps, or scrapes and dents to the bodywork and bumpers, as well as damage to the interior. It can also cover more complex damage too, such as brakes, steering, electrics, and suspension parts, according to Co Part.
How do I know if my car is a Cat N?
When you're buying any used car, it's so important to check the vehicle history. This is where you'll find out whether or not the vehicle has ever been written off at all. The best thing to do is to run an HPI vehicle history check on it, as well as check its reg with the DVLA.
By doing this check, you'll be able to find out whether a car has previously been registered as an insurance write-off, as this can affect the overall value of the vehicle. At the end of the day, no one wants to be paying over the market value for a car that has previously been involved in a road accident.
Buying or selling a Cat N car
If a vehicle has been fully repaired following a Category N write-off, the first thing that you might notice is how cheap and far less expensive it can be to purchase a Category N write-off car. Initially, this might look great but you need to get to grips with what you're dealing with.
If you can, you'll want to maybe try and avoid buying a Category N car from sketchy sellers because they might not tell you the full works. Therefore, you might want to look at buying from a dealer rather than a private seller.
If you do decide to go ahead and buy one, it's worth noting that even if it's still in perfect shape and top condition, the vehicle's value will probably be reduced because of the damage it has previously suffered. With this being said, you might find it hard to sell a Category N car, because some potential buyers just won't even consider them as an option.
The main thing when it comes to selling a Cat N vehicle, is just to be honest and open about your car's history and its condition. If it sells, it sells, and if it doesn't, well you could always just keep it as your own long-term vehicle, which could turn out to be a wise investment. So long as you've got all of your documents, details, and receipts, you've done all that you can.
Does insuring a Cat N car cost more?
The answer is sadly yes, it's likely your insurance premium is going to cost more for a Category N vehicle, compared to a normal, non-damaged car, but that doesn't mean that you have to pay the amount that the insurance company is asking for. You can always shop around for the best quote that suits you and your budget.
According to CarPlus, the reason for this is that written-off cars are more likely to get involved in an accident. You may find that some insurers don't actually cover Category N cars. If you do find a quote, it's likely that the final quote will vary depending on the car, your insurance provider, and the level of coverage you have, according to Autotrader.
Does Cat N affect MOT?
Well, the good news is that you won't need to have a new MOT. If your vehicle has been categorised as a Cat N, this doesn't mean that you need a new MOT, as it has only suffered non-structural damage. All that will happen is that the DVLA will wait for your vehicle's MOT when your current one expires.
What are the disadvantages of buying a Cat N car?
It's all about gathering as much information as you can before making a move and deciding whether or not to take the plunge with a Category N car, says Co Part. Do you know all about the damage and its repair costs? The main thing to always remember is that even if the vehicle is repaired and everything is fine, the vehicle will always be categorised as a write-off, no matter what.
Another thing to consider is that its purchase price, will never ever be as high as it once perhaps was because it now has a write off title instead, which will always be on its record. If you don't do any research, then you're taking a gamble on purchasing a vehicle without having conducted any checks on it at all.
Are Cat N cars worth less?
If you put a car next to a car that hasn't been written-off car, you can guarantee that the written off car is going to be less expensive than the other - fact! Even if it had the exact same mileage, condition and was even the same age, according to Car Plus. They even go on to say that no matter how much you invest in a Category N vehicle, it will still cost around 20% to 40% less than normal.
Can you get rid of a Cat N on a car?
The sad thing is, you can't actually remove the Category N from your car. No matter how much you might want to, sadly once it's there, it's there. It's like a permanent marker that you can't get rid of and if you fail to declare it as one, it is illegal, says Co Part.
If your car is declared as a Category N write-off, then this will stay with your car forever within the bounds of UK law. As harsh as this might seem, imagine if you were a buyer and you bought a Category N write-off without even knowing about it.