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Buying a Hail Damaged Car

Posted in Buyer Advice

Buying a Hail Damaged Car

After a big storm, with hail and debris, the clean up often means sales as businesses try to get back on their feet. Car yards are no different.

After a particularly nasty storm, damaged cars are cleared off lots to make way for new stock – but what happens to them?

Most cars are handed over to the insurance company for them to assess the damage and make a payout. Then, in order to make some money back, the insurer will sell off the written-off cars – often at a dramatically reduced price.

Slight damage can often represent good value on new or near-new cars – but what are you really getting into when you buy a car after a storm?

Statutory Write-Off vs. Repairable Write-Off

When buying a damaged vehicle, it might fall into one of two categories: a statutory or repairable write-off.

Statutory write-offs are cars that are so severely damaged that they cannot be safely repaired, therefore cannot be registered. These are usually sold for spare parts and scrap and can make a good purchase if your car needs parts.

Repairable write-offs are damaged cars that can be re-registered, but only after the Written-Off Vehicle Inspection (WOVI) – in addition to the usual roadworthiness tests – to make sure that it can be driven safely.

In Queensland, both these types of cars have to go onto the Written-Off Vehicle Register (WOVR), to disclose to potential buyers the history of the car.

Some cars that go on sale after a storm may just be deemed as unroadworthy until they’re repaired (for example, a broken headlight.) It’s just as important to get these cars checked thoroughly, as you would with any car before purchase.

Repairing a Damaged Car

Sometimes you may buy a car that’s perfectly driveable, but has cosmetic damage to the paint, panels or windows. People are often looking for newer models with this kind of damage to save thousands of a practically new car.

But be aware that the cost of repairing may make it look like less of a bargain.

Getting the car back to picture perfect could cost thousands in glass repair, panelbeating or sourcing parts – and sometimes those savings you got buying the car in the first place will end up sunk into repairs anyway.

It’s important to shop around to find the best deals on repairs, because a shoddy job will only end up costing you in the long run.

Something else to remember is that after a storm, everyone will have their cars in the shop – so there could be lengthy delays in getting your car fixed.

But if you’re happy to drive around in a car with a few bumps and scratches – go for it, just make sure you get it properly checked out by a qualified mechanic before you buy.​

Insuring a Damaged Car

A big part of car ownership is the insurance – but what do you do when the damage has happened before you even started driving it?

Insurance works on the same principle for cars as it does for humans – the insurance company will charge more if you have a pre-existing condition.

This is less of a problem for compulsory third-party (CTP) insurance, because your coverage there is based on whether someone else damages your car.

But for higher amounts of coverage, your premium could end up costing you more or you could be locked out of anything other than third-party insurance because your car has been assessed as too much of a risk to insure. And if you don’t tell your insurer that the car has been repaired from damage, they could refuse payout if you’re ever in an accident.

This makes it more important in your pre-buying checks to have a qualified mechanic go over a car thoroughly, then having a chat with your insurance company to get advice on how well you can be insured.

Other Checks

If you are getting a car that is still covered by a factory warranty, it’s worth your time to head to a dealership and see whether the manufacturer warranty has any conditions voided.

Checking for water damage and, in particular, rust or electrical damage caused by water getting into the car is very important – because it’s not always visible like a dented roof or missing windscreen.

It’s important to check whether a vehicle has been moved between states in order to avoid to be sold to unsuspecting buyers across borders – NSW and QLD have different laws about “re-birthing” (repairing and re-registering) a car, for example.

If you still have any questions, the expert service technicians at Motorama have the know how to check whether a car is worth buying and the steps to take before purchase.

And with some dealerships still trying to offload damaged cars while people wait for their insurance claims, Motorama has a huge range of new and pre-owned cars unaffected by the weather – ready to drive. Have a chat with the friendly teams at any of our dealerships to find a great deal today.

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