The Importance of Checking the Written-Off Vehicle Register Before Buying a used Car

31 August 2017
 Categories: Automotive, Blog


Usually, a written-off car is one that is so badly damaged that it is considered unsafe or uneconomical to repair. When this happens, its registration is cancelled and it is booked in the written-off vehicle register. This register is part of the national initiative in Australia to end the dodgy practice where badly damaged vehicles are brought back into operation with the sole purpose of using their identifications to give new identities to stolen vehicles.

Understanding the Written-Off Vehicle Register

Each state in Australia has legislation that requires businesses such as auctions, insurance companies, wreckers, dealers, and recyclers which assess, buy, sell, or even repair written-off vehicles to inform the government authority whenever they write-off a car. This information is then entered in the written-off vehicle register and made accessible to any person planning to buy a used car.

The unique aspect with this register is that it records only vehicles that are 15 years old and below. Any motorcycle, car, caravan, or trailer that exceeds this age limit is not included. Written-off vehicles are categorised as either repairable write-offs or statutory write-offs.

Repairable Write-Offs

Repairable write-offs are vehicles that have been damaged to an extent that if they were to be repaired, their cost of repair plus the salvage value would exceed their market value. Any older car can be classified under a repairable write-off even though the damage is minor, if the cost of repair and salvage value are higher than the value the car can fetch in the used car market.

It is possible for a repairable write-off vehicle to be repaired and then returned to the road provided that the repair process reinstates it to the manufacturers standards. The vehicle should also be inspected by the relevant state or government authority, and then pass a roadworthiness check after which its identity is validated. Contact a local vehicle registration inspection service to learn more.

Statutory Write-Offs

This write-off category is for vehicles that are deemed total write-offs because of the degree of the structural damage they have suffered such that no attempts to repair them to a safe roadworthy condition can succeed. Vehicles damaged by flood, fire, together with those that have been stripped also fall under this category. When a vehicle has been classified as a statutory write-off, it is identified with a label and placed in a readily visible location so that metal recyclers and wreckers can use it for parts together with for  scrapping.