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Should I Buy a Category S Car?

Have you been looking for a second-hand vehicle to buy? You may have seen cars that are labelled as category S vehicles and are really cheap. But what exactly does that label mean? Maybe you found yourself asking, should I buy a category S car to save money on my car purchase?

What is a Category S Car?

If a vehicle has had some damage because of an accident, fire, or flood, the insurance company would decide that it's going to be too costly to have it repaired. If this is the case, the car’s insurer may just write it off.

Insurance write-offs are divided into four categories. Categories A, B, S, and N. For category S vehicles, it means these cars have had structural damage. Nonetheless, they can still be repaired. But even though it's been repaired, its category will remain the same for the whole duration of its life. This reduces its price significantly. That's why category S vehicles are very affordable, but may not be eligible for car finance.

Understanding the Risks

There is a major flaw in the categorisation of written-off vehicles though. It's that there's no legal requirement for the repaired vehicle to be inspected and assessed whether it is safe for the road again. For this reason, it will be a challenge for car buyers to know if the category S car has undergone proper and thorough repairs and whether it is now roadworthy and safe to drive. 

Apart from safety, having a category S car can be risky in many ways. A category S vehicle will affect how much you have to pay for insurance. It will also affect the resale price of the car if you're going to sell it in the future. Keep in mind that it's very expensive to repair a car that has sustained structural damage. 

Insurance companies always assess whether the cost of repairing a vehicle will be worth it compared to the value of the car before being damaged. If, for example, the cost of repairing the car exceeds the value of the vehicle, then the insurance company will pay the policyholder a certain settlement figure and then write off the vehicle.  

Points to Remember

If you decide to buy a category S car, what you have to understand first is that these cars can be repaired by independent auto repair shops. However, they are not legally bound to submit the car to an inspection once the car is completely fixed. So this means car buyers cannot be fully confident that the repaired category S vehicle is safe to drive. 

It is unfortunate that there are no controls on the repair standards for category S vehicles. But if you still want to buy one, the best thing you can do is to have the car inspected by an expert. It may cost a bit of money, but it will be worth your while knowing that the car is roadworthy and you don't have to worry all the time while you're driving. It.

Why Buy a Cat S Car?

It can be a good idea to buy a written-off vehicle. The main benefit you can get from buying a category S car is that the price of such cars being sold as repairable salvage come at a very low cost.

These second-hand vehicles are even more affordable than exact models that have no history of damage. They may even have the same mileage and age but a category S car would be much cheaper. It this for this reason that you may see car dealers, hobbyists, and repairers buying category S cars, as well as category N cars. Buying a car with damage, and then repairing them so that it can be roadworthy again is actually a profitable business. 

If you plan to buy a car that has been repaired, it is crucial that you do all the checks so you can minimise any risk of purchasing a car that has hidden damage and issues. You may also want to conduct as much research as possible so you will have a decent understanding of the cost of buying a damaged car and how much you need to spend on the repairs so that it can be safe to drive on the road again.

Reselling a Cat S Car

If your purpose for buying a category S car is so that you can restore it and then resell it, you may get a decent profit. But do note that written-off vehicles under category S and category N usually sell at much lower prices even if they have been properly repaired.

However, if you are going to buy a category S car for personal use, then you don't need have to worry about the repair bill as much, the resale price of the car and the profit you're going to make. 

Even with all the repair costs, you can still save money when you buy a category S car compared to buying a brand new model. Once you've decided to buy a category S vehicle, don't forget to get an expert to do the inspection. 

Get an Expert to Inspect the Car

A trained expert who can inspect the vehicle thoroughly should be a motor, engineer who is associated with RAC or the AA organisations. This person will be able to inform you if there are any risks associated with the condition of the vehicle, how reliable the car will be in case of an accident, and also, they will be able to tell you if there are any hidden issues with the car. 

It's not going to be cheap, but it will be worth it to get an expert opinion. Having an engineer's report is something that you can also use as evidence in the courts in case you face the worst-case scenario like a lawsuit. 


It can be tempting to buy a Cat S car because it’s so cheap. However, it would be best if you have mechanical knowledge and background on how to restore a category S vehicle before buying one. This way, you can really be sure that the car you purchase is safe to go back on the road. You will also often find that lenders cannot help you to purchase a category S car, using any finance products such as Hire Purchase or PCP, as it's too high risk for them, so be sure to ask first before you commit to buy.

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