Should I Buy a Category S Car?

When looking for a new car, you may find some mention of different categories such as a "Category S car".🤔

Understanding what these categories mean is crucial as they reveal important information about prior damages and repairs to the vehicle.

To help you make the right decision, here we break down what a 'Cat S' car is, and the factors to consider before buying one.😍

What is a Category S Car?

A Category S car, commonly known as Cat S, is a term used in the UK to classify vehicles that have experienced structural damage.

This damage could be to vital parts like the chassis or suspension. While the car may have been in a significant accident, the Cat S label means it's repairable.

The trouble is this repair could come with a price tag that’s higher than the value of the car itself.

So, while a Cat S car isn't a total loss, it could end up costing you more to fix it than it would to replace it.

Pros and Cons of Buying a Cat S Car

Choosing a Cat S car is a decision that shouldn't be taken lightly. Knowing the pros and cons can help you make an informed choice:


  • Cost-Effective: Cat S cars tend to be more affordable, often costing thousands of ponds less than a standard model. This can be ideal for those looking to make significant savings.
  • Value for Money: If repairs have been carried out professionally and to a high standard, you may be getting a quality vehicle at a fraction of the price.


  • Insurance Hikes: Getting insurance for a Cat S car often means paying higher premiums.
  • Potential Hidden Damages: Even after repairs, there may be underlying issues that aren't immediately visible. This means you may need to pay unexpected costs in the future.
  • Lower Resale Value: When it's time to upgrade, you might find that a Cat S car has a much lower resale value.

By taking these pros and cons into account, it gives you a better idea of whether buying a category S car is the best option.

If you’re planning on taking out finance to fund your Cat S vehicle, you may struggle to get accepted. Many lenders are wary about providing finance for cars with structural damage.

So, you may need to compare auto loan options to find one with a good deal.

Key Considerations Before Buying a Category S Car

If you're considering buying a Cat S vehicle, there are some critical points to keep in mind to ensure you're making a sound decision. Let’s explore the key considerations to factor into your decision:

Damage History

With a Cat S car, it’s crucial to investigate its past and get a comprehensive report on its damage history.

Understand the severity and type of damage the car endured. If the damage was extensive, you may want to think twice about buying the car.

Even with repairs, if a vehicle has been badly damaged in the past, it may require additional repairs in the not-too-distant future.

It may even end up needing to be replaced quicker than a standard model.

Insurance Premiums

Depending on the type and severity of the damage sustained, Cat S cars may cost more on insurance.

Request quotes from several insurance companies to get an idea of how much you can expect to pay.

Quality of Repairs

Investigate the standard of the repairs carried out on the car.

Did they use genuine parts and was the work done by professionals?

The quality of the repair will determine how long they will last, and how much it will cost on insurance.

Resale Value

While a Cat S car might be a bargain now, think about its value down the line when you're ready to part with it.

Often, category S cars sell for much lower than the same standard used model. So, if you do want to sell at some point, you likely won’t get back what you spent on the car.

Does a Cat S Car Need to Be Inspected?

A Cat S car should be inspected before it is sold. To be allowed back on the road, it must undergo rigorous inspections to ensure its safety.

This is more than a mere formality. An inspection ensures all repairs have been executed correctly and that the vehicle poses no danger to its occupants or other road users.

While the car can legally be sold without this inspection, it cannot be driven until it has been deemed safe.

Read more about the different categories of cars:


FAQs About Buying a Category S Car:

What are the advantages of buying a Cat S car?

Cat S cars can be more affordable than standard models. Depending on the type of damage sustained, they can potentially provide great value for money.

How does the resale market work for Category S cars?

Resale values for Category S cars will usually be lower due to the damage sustained, impacting potential future sales.

How Do I Check the Repair History of a Category S Car?

Obtain a detailed vehicle history report, which should list repairs and any reported damage. At Carmoola, we provide a free HPI check for peace of mind.

Can I Get Insurance for a Cat S Car?

Yes, but some insurers may charge higher premiums or have specific restrictions due to the car's history of damage.

Should I Consider a Category S Car for Personal Use or as an Investment?

While Cat S cars offer value for personal use, considering them as an investment requires careful evaluation of repair costs and potential resale value.

Are There Any Safety Concerns When Buying a Category S Car?

It's essential to ensure that all repairs meet safety standards, as Cat S cars have suffered structural damage. Always have the vehicle inspected by a trusted mechanic before you buy it.