Motorcheck.ie made national press today. We released the results of a study that shows as many as 1 in 10 used cars being imported from the UK have been previously classed as a write off.
In the first comprehensive analysis of its kind, Motorcheck.ie examined a 10,000-strong sample of cars imported into Ireland from the UK in 2012, and found that over 950 of these were previously categorised as a Category A, B, C or D write off. Some had even been crashed multiple times!
The first publication to break the news was the Irish Independent with a comprehensive review of the categories of write off that Motorcheck.ie identified are so prominent with UK imports. Further contributions followed with 2FM, Today FM, 98FM and Mid West Radio picking up the story.
The majority of the categories involved were the lower categories (C & D). It is possible for a write off to occur when a car has suffered relatively minor and easily repaired damage (especially on older cars) but generally speaking, the younger the vehicle the more serious the repair has to be to qualify as a write-off.
Shockingly there were some small numbers of Category A or B write offs identified in our analysis. These are much more serious. In the case of Category A the law in the UK states that such cars must be scrapped and no components sold on and re-used in other cars. Parts from Category B write-offs can be re-used but only under strictly controlled circumstances.
In both cases a certificate of destruction must be issued. Clearly, however, there are a large number of unscrupulous sellers breaking the law and offloading dangerously repaired wrecks onto unsuspecting new customers.
Largest analysis of its kind
Given the fact that Motorcheck’s sample was so large, it can be said with some safety that the sample can be extrapolated, and that as many as 3,500 to 4,000 of the cars imported from the UK last year (assuming an annual average import level of 40,000) have previously been written off.
While it’s true that many of those vehicles may have been safely and legally repaired and put back on the road, it’s still extremely worrying that there is now a large number of cars in daily use out there that are simply not safe enough to be driven. Irish buyers should be aware of this danger when buying an imported car, and other road users are equally at risk.
The problem is not restricted to UK cars. The absence of official data for vehicles written off in Ireland has been highlighted by Motorcheck.ie in the past and means that Irish car buyers are at considerable risk from indigenous cars. We participated in an official consultation process with the Department of Transport and the Road Safety Authority back in 2010 and today continue to lobby for legislation that will encourage insurance companies to release this data.
What can you do to avoid buying a write off?
It is extremely important that buyers check for any outstanding write off flags before they buy a car. The previous damage may not be obvious to the unsuspecting buyer but poor repairs that have not been made to the appropriate safety standards can pose a potentially lethal risk. It is only by checking it first that you can make the informed decision and uncover any potential ‘walk away defects’ before you buy the car”.
Considering the scientific robustness of the sample, it could reasonably be extended out to all cars imported from the UK currently running on Irish roads. Out of the current 2.4-million cars on Irish roads, approximately 500,000 are imported from the UK, which means that as many as 45,000 cars on our roads today may have been previously written off.