Should you buy a repairable write-off? DON’T!

Imagine this: you found a car you love, it looks and drives great and best of all its priced right. But then you do a $2 PPSR check and it comes up as being a repairable write-off that has been inspected and passed. Your first reaction is most likely a flat out NO. But, wait a minute, you should be asking how much can you buy it for and what why was it written off?

What is a repairable write-off?

A repairable write-off is a vehicle that has been involved in an accident or incident such as a storm or hail damage and is registered as uneconomical to repair by an insurance company. A vehicle is recorded on the WOVR – the Written Off Vehicles Register when the owner is paid out in accordance with their insurance policy. These vehicles can then be sold and purchased; however, if the buyer wishes to drive the vehicle on the road again they are required to repair these vehicles and have the repairs inspected by either a government inspection centre and attain roadworthy and registration before they can get back on the road safely.

The key takeaway from the above definition is “Insurance Company finds it uneconomical to repair” which means in most cases an insurance company has to be involved for it to be listed on the WOVR. If a motor vehicle is uninsured or an insurance claim is denied then a salvage vehicle is not listed on the WOVR and may be bought and sold and then repaired without anyone being the wiser. In this case a PPSR search will not reveal this information and there are many cars out there that have been involved in serious accidents but are repaired and back on the road. Also worth mentioning that if an insurance company does agree to repair a vehicle that has been involved in an accident, it is also not listed on the WOVR.

This Corolla sold at auction was NOT listed on the WOVR –

What information can you find out?

Being listed on the WOVR is not all bad then, at least it’s honest about the history of a vehicle. Also its worth noting that not all written-off vehicles are involved in serious accidents either, sometimes raising questions why the vehicle was ever written off. So as long as the repairs have been done to a high standard there might be a good deal to be had buying a repairable write-off car.

If a vehicle is written off, repaired and re-registered there is likely to be information and photos about what was damaged and what was repaired. This documentation would have been required in order to pass an inspection and be allowed to re-register the vehicle. If you can get hold of this documentation and look at what has been done it might shed light on the history of the vehicle maybe help you make a decision.

What should you do?

There is no black and white answer when it comes to repairable write-off cars. If a PPSR search does reveal a written-off history but the vehicle looks good and repairs have been done well it might give you a bargaining advantage and you might be able to score a good deal.

In 2022 NSW and QLD experienced unprecedented floods and thousands of cars were affected. It makes sense that there will be a lot flood damaged vehicles on the market most will have been listed on the WOVR and repaired. With heavy reliance of electronics in modern vehicles, a flood damage car may have serious electronic gremlins that can take a years to develop, so it might be worth to stay away from flood damage vehicles. Also, any use of the word “heavy” in the PPSR report (heavy structural, heavy panel) might be worth giving a miss as well.

The only two last things to take into consideration are finance and resale. Financing a repairable write-off is tricky at best and almost all mainstream lenders will not even look at a vehicle that is listed on the WOVR. So if you need to finance a WOVR vehicle you will need to talk to a specialist like TradeMate to finance a repairable write-off.

If you plan to resell your repairable write-off car at a later date, you will most likely have to go through the same hurdles the person you bought the car from went through trying to sell a car with a repairable write-off history. But as with most things, it all comes down to price. So, if you can get it for the right price, it might all be worth it.

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