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Should I Buy A Repairable Write-Off?

Posted in Buyer Advice

Should I Buy A Repairable Write-Off?

A repairable write-off is a vehicle that’s been assessed as a total loss, however it doesn’t meet the criteria for a statutory write-off. Technically it can be repaired and re-registered again. But beware when shopping for a used vehicle that you don't buy one. We'll explain why.

Repairable vs. statutory write-off

Let's first check the difference between a repairable and a statutory write off.

A car is considered a total write-off and declared a statutory write-off if it is deemed to have suffered significant structural damage that it cannot be repaired to a sufficiently safe condition to be returned to the road, or that it has been damaged in a fire or flood, or has been stripped.

Once a car has been registered as a statutory write-off, it can only be used by a wrecker for parts or scrapping by a metal recycler. It will be identified as such with a label in a readily visible place; it cannot be repaired and returned to the road.

A car is deemed a repairable write-off if it has been damaged such that its salvage value, plus the cost to repair it, exceeds its market value.

An older car could be considered a write-off even with relatively minor damage, simply because the cost to repair it is greater than what it's worth in the used car market.

A car deemed a write-off can be repaired and returned to the road, providing it has been repaired to the manufacturer's standards, has undergone an inspection by the relevant government inspector, passed a roadworthiness check, and had its identity validated.

Buying a repairable write-off

Obviously you wouldn't consider buying a statutory write off as it's not allowed on the road ever again.   However, should you consider buying a repairable write off?

Our advice is probably not.  Except for the low price, there are simply no advantages.  Most repairable write-offs cars are damaged beyond reasonable simple repair and are not a good investment as a primary vehicle. The cons of purchasing a repairable write off are that the damages cost more than the vehicle’s value, you simply don't know what you're getting yourself into, and have a high chance of financial loss.  Next to that, a repairable write off has little to no resale value and can cause safety concerns along the way.  

It’s also worth noting that insurance companies know when a vehicle has been written off – even if it has been deemed a repairable write-off – because the VIN is listed on the Written-Off Vehicle Register (WOVR).

A repairable write-off could be subject to a slightly higher insurance premium, because it has suffered previous damage which could lead to more costly repairs at a later date if the car is involved in another accident.

Buying a pre-owned car from Motorama

If you're thinking about buying a Pre-Owned car you can rest assured that Motorama doesn't sell any repairable write offs. All our Pre-Owned vehicles undergo strict quality controls and a list of checks.

"At Motorama we guarantee our Pre-Owned vehicles have not been listed on the Written Off Vehicle register but when you buy private the seller does not have to declare if the vehicle they are selling is a repairable write-off. It's a case of buyer beware. A repairable write-off is worth a fraction of the value of a normal car of the same model and age. It may look cheap now but it will be worth a fraction of its normal value when you sell it or trade it in later", explains Carl Martin, General Manager at Motorama Browns Plains.

If you're buying privately, it's important that you go to the trouble to check the written-off vehicle register to assure yourself that you are not buying a car that's unsafe, and you're paying too much for, or will find hard to sell and insure later on.

Don't forget, if you buy a 4x4 from any Motorama dealership, you automatically join Motorama 4x4xMORE. This opens you up to exclusive invites to tag-along with the team to some of Queensland's most iconic off road locations, exclusive discounts & expert advice.

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