There are several reasons why Category N cars are so popular with buyers in our online vehicle auctions here at RAW2K, and of the most pivotal ones is that many of them can be in surprisingly good condition – in fact, more so than one might expect from cars that have been written off by insurers.
That’s largely because of the strange sort of economics surrounding Category N (short for “Non-structural damage”) cars. As we explained in a previous detailed post – unlike other salvage categories, a Category N designation doesn’t necessarily mean that a vehicle is unsafe to drive. It only means that the car is uneconomical to repair; in other words, the total cost of the repairs will exceed the overall value of the car. (That’s why they use the phrase ‘totalled’ in the US, by the way.)
This system means that if a car’s value has depreciated far enough, but it’s still in overall good condition, even a relatively minor fender bender can end up costing more than it’s worth, and that could cause the insurer to write it off as a Category N car (even if the car is still perfectly driveable).
All that goes some way to explaining why there’s no shortage of Category N cars that you can buy in online car auctions, with relatively minor damage. Here’s a quick roundup of some of the most common types of damage you can expect to find!
Panel damage and paintwork issues
No surprises here! The majority of Category N cars have typically been in at least one or two bumps and scrapes, and the most obvious indications of that usually come from a quick glance at the bodywork.
Depending on the make of the car, certain marks can be relatively costly to fix – a dent in the bodywork of your typical Audi is probably going to cost more than an equivalent in a Volkswagen Polo for example. However, the operative word is ‘relatively’ – the results of most fender benders can be easy enough to get sorted.
Missing or damaged wing mirrors
Another common one, which makes sense since by definition wing mirrors have to protrude to a certain degree from the car – which means that they’re often the first thing to be clipped if something gets too close, whether that’s another car passing it out on the roads, or a nearby wall when parking in narrow spaces. Happily, they’re not exactly expensive to replace – but if you’re planning on keeping the car for personal use, just make sure that you’ve carefully picked out a wide enough parking space in advance!
Cracks and chips in your windscreen
Anything flying directly at the front of your car – such as grit kicked up by a passing vehicle – is probably going to hit your windscreen first, so it’s no wonder they’re damaged so frequently. However, the importance of the repair is often underestimated by many drivers. Even a small crack can widen with little to no warning into a significant one, and that can end up seriously affecting the structural integrity of the windscreen (increasing its chances of shattering abruptly).
That’s why more or less every professional will recommend that drivers get it repaired as soon as practicably possible. Plus, it’s actually illegal to drive a car with a crack in the windscreen measuring over 40mm, or 1.5 inches.
Smashed or non-functioning headlights or rear lights
This may be sometimes quite obvious from the off, and sometimes a little less so, depending on the level of damage that the lights have sustained. Let’s be honest, they’re often the first thing to take the brunt of any impact when the car goes headlong into something, so it’s easy to see why – along with windscreens – they’re damaged quite so often.
On the other hand, the glass may be intact and they may be structurally sound, but may not be functioning if there’s loose wiring, or other underlying electrical issues. In fact, speaking of which…
This isn’t quite as common as some of the other sections on this list so far – which is just as well, because these types of problems are often considerably more expensive (at least proportionally). They’re increasingly integral to the core functions of essentially every car on UK roads today, neatly encapsulated by the fact that most cars depend on an ECU (electronic control unit) to function. It basically acts as the car’s ‘brain’, responsible for everything ranging from efficient fuel consumption all the way up to integrated navigation and infotainment systems.
That means when something goes wrong with the electrical systems, it can affect the car in a variety of different ways; it could cause problems for things like parking sensors for example, or headlights or reversing lights, or temperature control. Some of these might not be deemed that important – but obviously things like brakes very much are!
Damaged wheels or tyres
Any potholes or debris in the road is going to hit your tyres first, so once again it’s no wonder that these are amongst the most common types of non-structural damage. As with some other types of damage, you may be able to spot some at a glance, such as dented rims or completely deflated tyres. However, some problems are more insidious and dangerous, such as slow punctures or bald tyres. Yet another reason why it’s always important to give Category N cars a detailed inspection by a qualified professional, if you’re planning on driving it yourself!
You’ll find no shortage of Category N cars in our online car auctions right here at RAW2K. We’ve got a huge range of Category N cars in our online car auctions for used, seized and salvage cars, so whether you’re looking for your next personal vehicle, or you’re looking for something to fix up and sell on, we’re sure to have what you’re looking for. Why not take a look around, and see what you can find?