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Can I sell a non-running, damaged or faulty car?

November 05, 2021 by

This guide will walk you through the process of selling your damaged car and how to get as much for it as possible. Read on for all you need to know.

Assess the damage

The first thing you’ll want to do is figure out how bad the damage really is. This will determine what impact it has on the car’s value.

Minor cosmetic damage

Bumper scuffs, kerbed alloys and stone chips are all examples of minor cosmetic damage. There’s nothing stopping you from selling a car with scrapes such as this.

It’s important that you mention any cosmetic damage when you’re advertising your car for sale, and keep in mind that it will likely be worth slightly less than an undamaged car as a result. You may choose to have it fixed, but you’ll need to work out if it’s financially viable to do so.

Insurance write offs

If your car is more seriously damaged, in an accident for example, you can contact your insurance company to pay for the repair work it needs.  If the insurers decide that the damage will cost more to fix than the car is worth, they will write it off.

Insurance write offs are put into one of four categories, A, B, S, and N.

Category A cars are damaged so badly that they must be scrapped and can never be used on the road again. Even parts that are salvageable have to be crushed.

Cars deemed as a category B write off cannot go back onto the road and the body shell of the car has to be scrapped. There may still be some salvageable parts such as engine components, and these can be reclaimed for use on roadworthy cars.

Category S stands for ‘structurally damaged repairable’ cars. This means a structural part of the car has been damaged, like a bent chassis component, and the insurer has decided it’s not worth repairing.

You can opt to keep the car, but you’ll need to have it professionally repaired and re-register it with the DVLA to be allowed to use it on the road.

Category N means your car is not structurally damaged and is repairable. It may have a smashed bumper, for example, but the insurance company has deemed it too expensive to fix.

It’s important to note that non-structural damage may include things such as steering components and brakes, which will need to be replaced if they’ve been damaged.

Electrical issues

Electrical issues on cars range from annoying things like a faulty power window switch, to more major problems with the car’s engine management system.

You can sell a car with electrical issues, but it can be tricky as they can be a pain to put right which may put a lot of buyers off.

Some electrical gremlins can make your car unroadworthy as well, such as broken lights and windscreen wipers. So you’ll need to either fix it or make arrangements with the buyer for it to be collected on a truck.

Mechanical issues

This covers any faults with the mechanical components of the car, such as the engine or suspension.

If your car isn’t running, you can still sell it but it’ll be hard, and you may have to drastically reduce the price to draw a buyer in.

Repair any damage (if possible)

Selling your car while it’s damaged will drastically reduce the value, so it’s worth trying to get any issues fixed to attract as many potential buyers and help you get the best price.

If you’ve decided to repair it, make a list of garages near you. It’s highly likely that you’ll need to leave the car there, so you’ll be thankful that you picked one that’s not too far from home.

You can ask local social media groups for their recommendations, as well as friends and family. Try searching online for reviews of the mechanic in question. Many garages will have reviews on their own website, but these may not be impartial.

It’s a good idea to look for a garage that’s approved by the Motor Industry Code Of Practice For Service And Repair. These garages will have a clear complaints procedure if something does go wrong, meaning you’ll have a better chance of resolving your problem.

What happens if I don’t repair any damage?

It is still possible to sell your car without fixing the problems, but it can be challenging and can limit who you can sell it to.

If your car isn’t running, for example, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to sell it to a private buyer, which limits you to traders and mechanics.

When advertising your car, honesty is the best policy. List any damage or faults clearly so the buyers know what to expect.

This saves both you and the buyers time. If someone comes to view your car expecting to not find anything wrong, they won’t be pleased to find a smashed bumper or an engine that isn’t running properly.

You’ll also need to price the car accordingly. A car with issues won’t be worth as much as one in perfect condition, so if you want it gone you’ll need to knock some money off.

What if my car is irreparable?

There are a few situations where your car will be beyond repair, for example if it’s a category A or B insurance write off.

Car in these categories cannot be sold for use on the road because they have severe structural damage which is impossible to repair to a safe standard.

There are still a couple of options to help you claw back some money from a car that’s damaged beyond repair. If it’s not a category A write off, you can sell your car for parts.

Someone may want to buy your car to strip the salvageable parts from it, either to use in their own car or to sell on.

You’ll likely get more for your car selling it this way than you would if you scrapped it. It’s also less wasteful because someone can make use of the parts which still work.

The downside to this is that it can take a while to sell it because you’ll still have to advertise it and wait for someone to come and collect it.

If your car is a category A write off, or you don’t have time to list it for parts, you can simply scrap your vehicle.

This is the quickest and easiest way of getting rid of the car, and some scrap yards will even collect your car for you. The car will be crushed and the materials recycled.

While this is the fastest way to get some cash for your car, it won’t be much. Scrap values fluctuate but you’ll be lucky to get more than £300 for it.


What paperwork do I need when selling a non-running or damaged car?

As with all car sales, you’ll need the V5C logbook to transfer ownership of the car to the buyer.

If your car has been declared a category S or N write off and you’ve had it repaired, it pays to have the invoice for the work that’s been carried out as peace of mind for the new owner. The same applies to any repair work you’ve had done on the car.

What damage is easy to fix?

Minor cosmetic damage can be put right by a mobile bodywork technician without too much fuss, but you’ll want to get quotes before going ahead as prices vary depending on the severity of the damage.

Kerbed alloy wheels can also be easily rectified by a refurbisher for as little as £60 per wheel.

If you have damaged body panels, such as bumpers or doors, you may get lucky at a vehicle breaker and find a replacement panel in the right colour. These can be fitted by a garage for not too much money.

Can I drive a damaged car on the road?

This really depends on the extent of the damage, but it’s never recommended to drive a damaged car on the road.

Even things that appear cosmetic (such as dents) can cause structural damage to the car, so always get a professional opinion before using your car on the road.

Sell your car with carwow

Looking for a hassle-free way to sell your car? Now you can sell your car with carwow as long as it isn’t damaged beyond repair.

Simply enter your reg number, answer a few questions and upload some photos of your car. Then sit back and our network of trusted dealers will come back to you with the best offers.

If you choose to accept an offer, the dealer will come and inspect the car before paying you and raking it away, simple as that.