New figures have revealed that one in six cars currently on the road have been written off before. That's according to car history website mycarcheck.com, and it's higher than the figure previously thought, which was one in seven cars.
Car write-offs come in four categories labelled A to D. 'Cat A' write-offs are cars deemed too heavily damaged to be back on the road; 'Cat B' cars have sustained significant damage and shouldn't be back on the road either, but can be salvaged for parts; 'Cat C' are those with repairable damage, but which exceeds the value of the car; and 'Cat D' are relatively 'minor' write-offs, whose damage is significantly expensive but can be repaired.
As such, despite the phrase 'write-off' alone being enough to make most used car buyers steer well clear, a written off car isn't necessarily an absolute no-no.
Research by mycarcheck.com has shown that 21% of buyers would consider purchasing a written off car - but it's vitally important to know its specific history before buying, says the company, who happens to provide such a service. (The company would say that, though, because it sells vehicle history checks.)
Even though a write-off is technically 'repairable', it doesn't mean the car goes back on the road in as new condition.
According to Thatcham, a bad repair job can "make [a car's] Euro NCAP safety rating null and void."
There are around 46,500,000 cars on the road in the UK today, 8.2 million of which have been previously categorised write-offs, according to mycarcheck.com figures.
Speaking to Autoblog, Malcolm Tarling of the Association of British Insurers (ABI) explained that while it is "perfectly legal" for repairable write-offs to go back on the road, it is illegal to repair and re-sell a major write-off (Cat A and Cat B).
"Some insurers will even re-insure a repaired vehicle that they've deemed a write-off in the past," he said.
Roger Powell of mycarcheck.com said: "Even when money is tight, safety should always be the primary concern. Some write-offs can be repaired to their pre-crash condition but Thatcham has demonstrated the frightening difference between a good and bad repair.
"Car buyers must consider the implications of being involved in an accident in a car that has already been structurally weakened."