When a car is involved in an accident, the insurer will typically assess the vehicle to determine whether it is feasible for them to cover the cost of repairing it.
If the repair costs exceed or are close to the car’s overall value, it may be declared ‘beyond economic repair’, written off and placed into one of four salvage categories. (See our guide ‘What is a Cat A, Cat B, Cat S and Cat N write-off’ for a full explanation of this topic.)
Once a car is written off, any assigned insurance categories will permanently appear on its records, even if it is subsequently repaired to a high standard.
In this guide, we will cover your options for selling salvaged vehicles in various categories, how different salvage categories affect car value – and why salvaged cars are worth less than undamaged equivalents.
When it comes to selling a salvaged car, there are several options at your disposal, including:
Providing the vehicle has been restored to a roadworthy condition, you should be able to sell your car privately. Placing an advert for your salvaged motor on a free car advertising website will help ensure it is seen by the right audience. (When selling your car, you should be fully transparent about its category status.)
Depending on your car’s condition, you may be able to sell it at a local dealership – or part exchange it to help you make the switch to a newer model. However, bear in mind that some dealerships won’t buy salvaged vehicles at all, as they cannot be sold as approved used cars.
Most salvage cars (except Category A write-offs) can be broken down and sold for parts. This can be a worthwhile option if the cost of repairing your motor would be too high (or the vehicle cannot legally be returned to the roads).
You can scrap your car at an Authorised Treatment Facility (ATF) or through certain car buying services (including webuyanycar). This is the only selling option for a Category A vehicle. (Make sure you have the correct documents to scrap your car.)
Want to get the best possible price for your salvaged motor? Read our guide to preparing your car for resale.
To find out whether your vehicle has been sold as salvage, you can use an online salvage check tool. A quick online search will show you several options. For a small fee, you can generate a report with detailed information about your vehicle and its salvage history such as:
You’ll need the vehicle’s registration number to get started.
In some cases, these advanced tools will be able to retrieve photographs of the vehicle at the auction, which can be useful for evaluating the level of damage sustained.
If your vehicle has a salvage category, this will affect your car valuation. The value deducted will depend on which salvage category it falls into:
To make your car valuation as accurate as possible, we recommend updating our salvage assumption after receiving your initial valuation.
To do this, navigate to the section labelled ‘Has your vehicle ever been subject to an insurance write off or been accident damaged?’, then select the relevant salvage category.
After a car is written off, the insurer will often sell it at a salvage auction to recover some of the cost. Depending on its condition, the buyer may decide to repair the car with a view to selling it.
However, even after being repaired to a roadworthy standard, a car with a salvage title is typically worth 20-40% less than an equivalent undamaged vehicle. No matter how meticulously the repairs are carried out, some structural damage may persist and the car might not run quite as safely or smoothly as before.
Category A and B cars are considered ‘beyond repair’ and cannot legally be repaired for road use. As such, they are worth significantly less than Category N or S vehicles, which can be restored to a driveable condition.
It is the seller’s responsibility to disclose the vehicle’s category status, although this does not always happen in practice. Therefore, we would advise running a category check before buying a used car.
If a car has been salvaged, this means it has been in an accident, stolen or weather damaged - and an insurer has declared it unfit for use on the roads. From here, the insurer may sell the vehicle at a salvage auction.
Depending on its condition, a salvaged vehicle can be repaired, sold for parts or scrapped.