Why buy a Category B car in an online car auction?

Category B cars aren’t the first choice for many customers browsing our car auctions – which is understandable! They’re amongst the most severely damaged cars we stock, so what we find many of our customers asking here at RAW2K is: are Category B cars really worth it? Well, yes, if you know what you’re doing! Cat B cars are mainly bought by people who know how to dismantle vehicles for parts, and can result in some significant cost savings if you’ve got the knowledge and experience.

What is a Category B salvage car?

Essentially, Category B is one of the four main salvage categories for salvage cars, as determined by the Association of British Insurers (ABI). Category B cars are sometimes known as ‘break’ cars, and have undergone serious structural damage or damage to their chassis. They’re classed as irreparable salvage, and can’t legally go back on the road. However, they can be dismantled for salvageable parts, which can then be re-sold or even used to repair other vehicles. Once that’s done and it’s been more or less stripped bare of anything with any value, the shell can then be crushed, and the owner given a Certificate of Destruction.

Essentially, Category B is one of the four main salvage categories for salvage cars, as determined by the Association of British Insurers (ABI). Though obviously the potential of Cat B salvage cars is limited for consumers without any mechanical knowledge, they can be a veritable goldmine for mechanics and other automotive professionals. Those with the necessary knowledge and eager eyes can buy a Category B car at a significant saving, allowing them to then make money on all the parts to be re-sold. That’s not to mention the scrap value they’ll then get for the remaining shell!

red car damaged headlight

Quick questions about Category B cars, answered

Can I sell a Category B car?

You can’t sell the car as a whole vehicle, because its chassis and structural frame have to be destroyed by law. However, what you can do is remove and sell non-structural parts, as long as you’ve got the skill and equipment to remove them. This includes the electronics, seats, tyres or mechanical parts, provided they’re in fit condition to be sold. (We’ve provided a more complete list of the viable parts below.)

Can I repair a Category B car?

Category B cars cannot be repaired with the intention of putting them back on the road. If a vehicle has been classed as Category B, that means that the body of the car must be crushed. However, you can remove parts of a Category B car to use as spares or replacement components for other vehicles. (This is largely why Cat B cars tend to be bought mostly by professional breakers and mechanics.)

Can I drive a Category B car?

No, as it would be highly illegal and dangerous to do so. Under no circumstances can a Category B car be returned to the road, as by definition it has been deemed too unsafe. If its parts are in good working order and safe to use, they can be removed and used to repair other cars. 

Can I insure a Category B car?

No. The fact that it’s illegal to drive Category B cars means that you’ll be very hard pressed to find an insurer willing to provide cover. Insurers will reject a Category B car offhand, as the likelihood of an accident or breakdown presents an unacceptable risk to them. 

Can category B cars be used on roads abroad, or on a race track?

No. Apart from the difficulty involved in exporting them to other countries, a Category B designation means that the car concerned is unsuitable for public highways anywhere in the road, not just the UK. Using them on a racetrack presents, if anything, an even greater threat to safety, so it’s probably no surprise to learn that driving them on any sort of racetrack is similarly forbidden. 

Who buys Category B cars?

Most of the time, category B cars are bought by vehicle breakers; professionals with the skills and expertise to take them apart. Professional mechanics, for example, are likely to be amongst those who get the most amount of value from the spare parts that breaker cars often yield - and what’s more, they’re more likely to have the biggest number of cars that need repairing. 

The key advantages to buying a Category B car

The cost saving

We’ve already touched on this above, but the cost saving is one of the biggest reasons that most people buy a Category B car in British car auctions. This is especially true if you need several car parts, as sourcing them all from a single used vehicle can end up being significantly cheaper than buying them all brand-new individually.

The resale value

A common mistake that many people make when buying cars at auction is to assume since break cars are so badly damaged, they have nothing to offer. But although it’s true that, by definition, Category B cars have suffered some serious damage, many people don’t consider that this damage can sometimes be concentrated in a single place. A Cat B car that’s been rear-ended, for example, could still have its windscreen wipers, windscreen glass and stereo system salvaged. Tyres are another potentially valuable part which can be left largely untouched by even serious collisions, too. Flood damage, on the other hand, will have significantly more broad-ranging consequences!

The time saving

Similarly to the cost savings, salvaging all the necessary (and bonus!) car parts in a single session saves you long hours in front of the computer, or at car dealerships trying to source several different parts. In fact, if you’re looking for certain parts suited only to a specific make or model of vehicle, online car auctions are great places to find identical cars that you might otherwise struggle to locate in dealerships.

You’re helping the environment

This isn’t necessarily a prime reason for many professionals to buy salvage cars, but it’s always a nice bonus! Salvaging used parts from Cat B vehicles lessens the market demand for new ones to be manufactured – which saves the cost, energy, time and raw materials that it would take to produce new parts from scratch. So if you plan to buy a Cat B car from auction, you can give yourself a bit of a pat on the back for doing your bit!

damaged front light

What parts can be salvaged from Category B cars?

Theoretically, almost anything! Largely it depends on the exact condition of the salvage car itself, and the circumstances in which it was written off. We’ve included a short list of some examples of parts that you can remove and sell on or reuse. Some are so easy to remove that they might not require any mechanical knowledge, whereas others might need specialist knowledge to tackle.

You can salvage:

  • Tyres (as long as they’re in good condition)
  • The radio or stereo system
  • The battery (easy to locate and remove)
  • Seats and seat covers
  • Gearstick and/or steering wheel
  • Windshield glass or windshield wipers
  • Any undamaged doors and panels
  • Copper wiring
  • A working engine (highly valuable, but can be costly to ship)
  • Catalytic converter (amongst the single most valuable parts you can salvage)

Here at RAW2K, you can browse our used, seized and salvage car auctions for vehicles in almost any ABI category, from lightly damaged Category N cars all the way up to more severely-damaged Category B cars. (The only category we don’t stock is Category A, since by definition these are usually so badly wrecked that they’re of no use to even the most enterprising of mechanics!) Why not check out our online car auctions today, and see what bargains you can track down?