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Why You Need to Check the Written Off Car Register

In one of our recent posts, we covered the benefits that come with inspecting a second hand vehicle. We also briefly touched on one other vital consideration when it comes to used cars. That is, ensuring the vehicle hasn’t previously been written off. Not only do you want to avoid the prospect of ending up with a lemon, but the ramifications could be a LOT worse – both in terms of safety, and from a financial perspective. The good news? Each state and territory has made this easier for motorists by hosting their own register online.

When it comes to write-offs, it’s important to distinguish that there are two types – statutory write-offs, and repairable write-offs. Both categories on the register are restricted to vehicles up to 15 years old. The registration of a written off vehicle is also cancelled once declared a write-off by the relevant authority who supplies the information. Such authorities typically include the likes of insurance companies, dealers, auctioneers, and other parties who trade such vehicles for parts or scrap value.

In the case of a statutory write-off, the vehicle has either been: damaged beyond economical repair; damaged extensively by hail, floods or fire; stripped of parts; or suffering a notable level of structural damage that would inhibit the vehicle being repaired to a safe and operable standard. These vehicles are meant to display a notice advising of their written off status. Meanwhile, it is prohibited to repair the vehicle or take it onto the roads – its use is now limited to scrapping, or for parts.

As far as repairable write-offs, these vehicles are deemed as a write-off when their underlying salvage valuation plus costs associated with repairing any damage exceed the market valuation of the vehicle. This has a tendency to work against older vehicles, particularly those from luxury manufacturers, or models which are known to depreciate rapidly.

Unlike a statutory write-off, vehicles which have been declared a repairable write-off may be repaired and returned to the road. This will typically be recorded with the registration body in each state, and may show up on the registration certificate. As you can image, the process of returning a vehicle of this nature onto the road is somewhat strict. As well as the repairs themselves, owners are required to provide relevant documentation proving the identity of the car, while also taking the vehicle through a roadworthy test and government inspection.

Having the peace of mind and clarification that a vehicle is a statutory write-off is a blessing for motorists. On the contrary however, the presence of repairable write-offs on the relevant registers means that affected vehicles will take a significant hit in terms of their valuation – despite the fact they have passed all necessary tests and are considered safe and operable. Keep this in mind if you’re considering purchasing a vehicle that was a repairable write-off.

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