Salvage Cars – All you need to know

A car ready to be salvaged

What is a salvage car?

The term “salvage car” refers to a vehicle that has been damaged and the extent of the damage means the car is no longer fit for use on the road. The difference between a scrap car and a salvage car is that a salvage car can be returned to the road if it has been assigned a Category S or Category N title (see below), whereas a scrap car is only good for one thing – the scrap yard.

Salvage cars can be repaired, have their parts salvaged and re-used or sold on, or can be sold.

What is a salvage title?

A salvage title refers to the category given to a car by an insurance company following a total loss. However, instead of being sent straight to the scrap yard, the damage sustained by a salvage car is able to be repaired, either to get the original car running again or to help fix another stranded vehicle.

Vehicle Salvage categories

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) salvage codes are assigned to vehicles based on the damage they have sustained. There are four categories that can be assigned.

Category A

A Cat A vehicle has sustained damage rendering it unsafe to be allowed back on the road. There will be no salvageable parts to these vehicles.

Category B

Cat B vehicles will have received significant damage but will have parts that can be salvaged and re-used in other vehicles.

Category S

Cat S cars have received structural damage. This damage will not be serious enough to classify it as a Cat A or Cat B vehicle, but the damage has been deemed to cost more to repair than the value of the vehicle.

Category N

A Cat N vehicle will have sustained non-structural damage and will be able to return to the road once repaired.

If you’re interested in finding out more, take a look at our vehicle salvage categories article.

Types of Salvage Vehicle Damage

Cars that have been assigned a salvage category have often been involved in a collision. However, there are plenty of other reasons a vehicle has been assigned as a salvage vehicle. For example

  • Flood damage: With severe flooding comes flood damaged cars. Depending on how significant the damage, it could be a possible cause for a total loss.
  • Vandalism: A car sustains damage from vandalism and that damage is greater than the value of the car. Examples of vandalism damage could be an overturned vehicle or someone spray-painting a vehicle.
  • Theft recovery: If a vehicle is stolen and not recovered after a certain amount of time, the insurance company will pay off the vehicle.
  • Fire: A vehicle catching fire could be grounds for receiving a salvage category. This could be the result of a house fire, garage fire or similar.

How to value your salvage car

If you own a salvage car it will be worth something to someone, and there are a several factors that determine just how much your car is worth, including:

  • Vehicle make – some are more desirable and as a result are worth more than others.
  • Vehicle model – as well as a vehicle’s makes, the model can make a car more or less valuable.
  • Desirable parts – if these can be salvaged it can add value to the overall price you receive.
  • Repair – depending on the type and cost of repair, it might be relatively easy for an experienced salvage company, garage or mechanic to put the car back on the road.

Your salvage car value

Want to know how much your car would be worth if sold for salvage? Simply enter your registration and postcode above to get an instant price. Our best price is guaranteed and our network of salvage car buyers ensure you get the best price for your vehicle.

Salvage Vehicle FAQs

Are salvage cars valuable?

Potentially they are valuable. The best way for you to know is to get a salvage car valuation with us today.

Can I sell a salvage car?

Yes, you can sell salvage cars. They can be sold to public as a normal car, to commercial companies or at a salvage car auction.

Can I drive a salvage car?

This will depend on whether it has been assigned a salvage category, and the type of category given. For example, it is OK to drive a category N car as long as the vehicle is roadworthy. It’s not OK to drive a category S car until the damage has been repaired – the vehicle won’t be safe to drive until then.

Can I insure a salvage car?

Yes. Salvage cars that are roadworthy and legally allowed to be driven on the road must be insured. However, insurance for a car that has a category title may well be more expensive than one without, and some insurers may not offer insurance at all.

What is a salvage car auction?

There are specialist auctions across the UK car market that are dedicated to salvage cars. Salvage cars are sold and bought here, just like regular car auctions.

Interested in the salvage process? Find out more about how to salvage your car.