Should I Buy a Category N Car?

Are you having a tough time with your choices on what car to buy? Brand new vehicles can be expensive. With second-hand vehicles, you can get a good deal. But there are also better deals if you buy cars that have been written-off like category N vehicles. If you plan to save money on your car purchase, an important question to ask would be “should I buy a category N car?”

Vehicles under this category are those that have been written off by insurance companies because they have incurred some damage. In general, category N cars have had significant damage, which is usually a result of an accident. However, the good news is that the damage did not affect the car's structural frame or chassis. 

What does “Write-off” Mean?

Insurance providers use the term “write-off” when they want to describe vehicles that have had a lot of damage that it is no longer practical to repair. For many years, this was a system that insurance companies relied on when it comes to classifying vehicles that attained damage.

There were four categories for these kinds of vehicles, ranging from A to D. Category A vehicles have the most damage and are no longer repairable, whereas category D cars have no serious structural damage. Once the vehicles are repaired completely, they will be deemed roadworthy. 

In 2017, this system on which insurance companies have based their classifications has changed. There are some elements though, that still remain the same. For example, Category A and Category B vehicles pertain to those cars that should be scrapped. Some parts can still be used and recycled for Category B vehicles though. 

However, in this new system, the last two insurance write-off categories have been reclassified. For example, category C became category D, and then category S became category N. 

Reclassification of Written-off Vehicles

Here's how they have been reclassified: a car that is under the category S is one that has been structurally compromised. Nonetheless, it's still possible to fix this car. For category N vehicles, these are cars that have no structural damage and can still be repaired. Do note that all these four categories are still considered write-offs by the insurance providers. 

The purpose of these categories is to measure the damage of the car, and whether or not it's still possible to repair and salvage it, or if the vehicle should be scrapped altogether. If you're thinking about buying a category N car, you should think about the cost of the repair. Will it be greater than half of the vehicle’s total value? This is a crucial factor that you may have to consider before buying a category N car.

What is a Category N Car?

Vehicles under this category were once labelled as category D by insurance providers. Now that they are termed “category N.” The letter N for this label actually stands for “non-structural damage.” It means that they do not have structural damage and may be repaired. Once the repairs are completed, they may be roadworthy again. 

But even if these vehicles are structurally sound, the damage that it has will still have to be addressed. Some cars have obvious problems like issues with their outer shell. But in many cases, the problem may only be electrical issues or those affecting certain parts of the car. 

Is It Worth Buying a Category N Vehicle?

If the vehicle has a history of going through repairs following an insurance write-off, you can expect that it will be more affordable to buy it compared to vehicles that have not been written off. 

If your goal is to save a lot of money on your car purchase, then choosing a category N car might be something to consider. However, you have to ensure that all the necessary repairs have been completed so that the car is safe to drive. So if you're looking to get the most value from your money, you may want to consider buying a category N car.

You may think that damaged vehicles are no good. However, there's actually an advantage to having a used car that has been written off. These cars have been inspected and checked thoroughly to make sure that they are roadworthy. Compare that to second-hand vehicles that have not been written off. Those cars usually have problems that are not very obvious but would emerge later on. 

If you buy a second-hand vehicle through a “used and approved” scheme, you may not have to go through all the checks to make sure that the car will perform well. However, cars from dealerships that use such schemes are expected to be more expensive. If there are any issues with the car that will arise, they will be covered by the warranty for as long as you follow the terms and conditions of the deal. 


Keep in mind that when you buy a category N car, you can expect to save a lot of money from the upfront cost. However, do consider that if you want to sell the car in the future, potential buyers will most likely haggle to get the best price from you because of the car’s history. You also need to consider that it's unlikely you can get car finance for this sort of vehicle.

Another important factor to consider is insurance. Not all insurance providers will give consideration to a category N vehicle. If you do find a provider that will cover your vehicle, you should prepare yourself for higher premiums. Before you make a purchase, it's important to calculate and estimate the costs first so you’ll have an idea if it's really worth buying a category N car. 

If you're not going to resell the vehicle in the future, but want to keep it for a long time, then a category N car may be a decent investment. Since the new sale price will no longer be an issue, a category N vehicle that is running well will give you good value for your money. 

Of course, before finally deciding if whether you should buy a category N car, you should be completely satisfied with the vehicle’s history and its integrity. You should be sure that you will be safe while you're driving the car.