A Guide to Car Categories

Car categories were first introduced as a way of identifying cars which have been written off and were assigned letters to identify potential buyers (if done up again for re-sale), as to the damage previously caused to them. Car categories are ranked in four categories, ranging from A to D, with the severity of the damage decreasing as you go down the alphabet. 

They are a useful way for those who are potentially looking at purchasing a second hand used car, if the car has previously suffered any damage and if so what type has occurred? Here is a breakdown of the letters and what they mean to use as a helpful guide:       

Category A 

Cars which have been impacted by severe structural damage and are not suitable for repair so can only be sent off to be scrapped. The types of cars listed as ‘A’ would be any which have been in a bad road traffic accident or been burnt out after being set fire to in an act of vandalism. 

Category B 

Again, for a car to fall into this category, it will have suffered significant damage and thus the body shell must be destroyed. However, certain parts may be recovered for installation into other vehicles, such as the seats or tyres if these are still in a fit state for re-use.

Category S (formerly Category C)

Like a category A and B, this category of car has also had significant damage. However, unlike the previous categories, this type of car can be repaired and put back on the road once it’s back in a safe condition. Once repaired, an accredited engineer will perform checks to make sure it’s roadworthy again and must be re-registered with the DVLA before it can be driven again. 

Category N (formerly Category D)

Cars which fall into category N will have been impacted by non-structural damage and fall into this category. Whilst this category classifies cars with minimal severity in terms of damage, it’s worth knowing that again only after proper safety checks have been passed that this car can become legal to put back on the road again. 

We hope you’ve found this to be a useful guide and a good way to understand the different categories a car may fall into. Just because a car has fallen into one of these categories, it does not always mean it cannot be road-worthy again, providing it falls into either category S or N and has been safely restored to a fit state.

Katherine E. Ackerman

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