What Do the Different Car Damage Categories Mean?

When you’re looking at second hand cars, they may be listed as certain letters – A, B, S and N. And unless you’ve come across these categories before, you might be unfamiliar with what they mean. These letters correspond with different damage categories, given to a vehicle after it has been written off.

That’s not to say that the car is now undrivable – these damage categories have simply been awarded at some point in the vehicle’s past. The car will have been damaged to the extent that it was no longer safe to drive, or need repairs that were deemed to exceed the value of the car. Since then though, work could have been carried out to mean that the vehicle is fully serviceable.

People are often more wary of cars that have a damage category attached to them, as it could mean the vehicle will need further repairs down the line. For instance, if the car had previously had a lot of rust, but had been welded to the extent that it passed its MOT, there would still be a high likelihood that additional welding would be needed a year or two later.

If you’re looking into vehicles that have previously been listed as damaged, it can be helpful to know what each letter means. We’ve therefore outlined each car damage category below:

Category A Vehicles

This is the worst damage category. With a Category A car, the damage to the vehicle is so bad that no part of it can be salvaged. Essentially, if your vehicle is put into this category, it will need to be scrapped, and you should receive a payout from your insurance company.

car damage

Category B Vehicles

While not as bad as Category A, with Category B, the damage to your car is nonetheless extensive. The damage will almost certainly warrant the need to scrap the vehicle, such as the chassis, body or frame of the car being unusable, but some parts will be salvageable. These parts can be reclaimed to use in similar models of car. As with Category A, you should get a payout from your insurance company when the vehicle is scrapped.

Category S Vehicles

There could still be hope for a Category S vehicle! Although there will be some structural damage, like having a twisted chassis or wheel axis, and the car is deemed uneconomical to repair, the damage can still be fixed. A professional will need to make the repairs before the vehicle is safe to drive.

If your car falls under this category, it’s likely that your insurance company will sell the car to someone prepared to undertake the repairs, and then sell it on. At that point, you may even decide to buy the vehicle back.

Category N Vehicles

Despite having no structural damage, with a Category N vehicle, there will be some form of issue that means it’s not considered economical to repair. If the cost of repairs is more than half the car’s value, such as significant cosmetic damage, or an impairment to the steering system, the vehicle will fall under this category.

It will be up to you whether you want to go ahead and get these repairs done, despite the cost, or you can claim money from your insurance company, and they’ll sell the vehicle.

car damage categories

What to Do if Your Car is Written Off

Many people will be involved in some form of accident while driving, and you may encounter one of the above categories should your car be written off. If this is the case, your insurance company will offer you some form of cash payout, in return for them taking possession of the vehicle. But you don’t have to accept this offer, if you don’t believe it’s a true reflection of the value of your car.

For instance, if you’ve recently had work done on your vehicle, such as installing a new speaker system, or new alloys, you might feel it’s worth more than similar cars. You should also do some market research, to see if you’re being offered a reasonable price.

If you do decide that you’d be better off selling the car on, or doing it up so that it becomes drivable again, just bear in mind that you have to disclose the damage category to a new owner. Even if it’s since been fully serviced and passed an MOT, the category must be included in the service history of the vehicle. Transparency is always important in car sales – that way there won’t be any misunderstandings at a later point.

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