Cat C refers to an insurance write off. There are four levels of damage A-D. Cat D = minor and Cat A = vitually impossible to repair.
The car has been involved in an accident and deemed un-economical to repair by the insurance company. The owner then buys back the car off the insurance company and repairs it, re-registers it and sells it on. All Perfeclty legal. Personally I'd steer clear of it. A HPI check will usually tell you what damage was recoreded.
You should count yourself lucky that the dealer told you. They do not have to inform a buyer that the car has been written off in the past.
My car is a Cat C write off, after the ex kindly doused it with brake fluid.
Structure wise it is still sound, but to do a full repair job in the insurance companies garage was more than the car is worth.
I bought it back for a few hundred quid, got it re-sprayed at a pal's garage for a few more, and it lived on a happy for a few years until a 70mile daily commute finished it off.
Having said that, I probably wouldn't buy a Cat C car, with mine I knew the circumstance...
Co-op - £128 settled in full, June '06
First Direct - £125 settled in full, July '06
Barclays - offer made, Dec '06.
First Direct part deux - charges refunded in full, Oct '06, threatened to close a/c in Nov '06, letter dispatched to head man.
Student Loan Company - £25 of charges refunded, Nov '06.
Lloyds - LBA dispatched, Oct '06
MBNA - LBA dispatched, Nov '06
Vehicles in Categories A. B, C and D are categorised as per the Association of British Insurers Code of Practice for the Disposal of Motor Vehicle Salvage.
Categories F, N, U, X and Retail Ready have been introduced by some resellers to assist the buyer when purchasing vehicles outside of the recognised categories. None of these categories will show on a HPI check only A B C and D
The categories can be defined as follows: A: Not allowed to be repaired or parts sold, to be sold only for its recyclable content. B: Heavy damage, Not repairable, can be broken for spare parts only, shell must be crushed. C: Repairable, where the insurer's repair costs exceeded the vehicle's pre-accident value. D: Repairable, where the insurer's repair costs did not exceed the vehicle's pre-accident value.
F: A vehicle that has suffered fire or flood damage (Could also be classed as CAT A if fire damage is more that 10%) (flood damage can also show as a Category A).
N: Non salvage vehicles taken in part exchange.
U: Vehicles not owned by an insurance company that may have sustained damage.
X: Stolen and recovered vehicles that insurance companies have paid out on and are then later recovered.
Retail Ready: Vehicles prepared to retail standard and sold with an MOT (where applicable).
There were 265,877 road vehicle accidents in 2012 to 2013. Of those 197,388 were cars. If 60% of those were repaired by the insurer then there are 118.4 thousand repaired cars put back on the road in 2012 and beyond. Most but not all of these cars were repaired by a main dealer and because of that they don't have any Category D or C marked against them.
The vehicles not repaired by the insurance companies (irrespective of the level of repair required) are sold for resale to any person or car repair workshop that can then repair them. These cars have been through the same process of being repaired but they have a Category D or C marked against them.
The question of whether they have been repaired correctly is a separate issue.
I don't have any problem with a correctly repaired car but I do not want to buy a car that has not been correctly repaired and I have no way of knowing this if it's one of the 118.4 k previously mentioned or indeed one of the many more thousands of repaired cars that have never been through the insurance claim procedure.
If I buy a car that is advertised as a Category D or C then I know what I am buying. I am being given the cars history and can make a informed judgment. I can if required get the car inspected.
A car given a Category C or D does not mean the "car" is a 'write off' or 'total loss'.
Insurance companies often call vehicles involved in an accident a 'write off' or 'total loss', which gives the wrong impression to anyone not familiar with the insurance or salvage industry. An insurance company faced with a claim first estimates the financial cost of repairing the vehicle to its pre-accident condition. The cost of the repair will be based on new parts prices, main dealer garage labour and storage charges, often making it uneconomical for the insurance company to carry out the repair.
If the financial cost to the insurance company is the same or near to the market price, the insurance company would normally call this vehicle a write off which means that they will 'write off' the financial cost of the repair, not the vehicle itself.
The term total loss is also often misused. It actually means the insurance company made a complete financial loss, i.e. they recovered no money from the sale of the salvage and therefore made a total financial loss on the claim.
It's all about money.
Because a insurance company wants to keep is cost down (this ultimately means insurance premiums are cheaper) it looks for the most cost effective way of dealing with a cars repair.
Category C cars are more heavily damaged than Category D
The category C or D given to a car is mainly determined by the cost of repairs in relation the vehicles age and value. A Category C car can have less damage than a car with a Cat D listing.
Barry Hensall (CatigoryCars)