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What is cat n and cat s car? Everything you need to know

Cat S and Cat N

Buying a used car without a write-off history can be a challenging task! In the current UK market, approximately most of the cars fall under the Cat S or Cat N categories.

Cat N and Cat S cars can be worth buying if you’re well-informed and exercise caution. They often come at a lower price, but repair quality and thorough inspections are essential. Ultimately, it depends on your budget, willingness to invest in repairs, and the vehicle’s history.

Our comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about Cat N and Cat S cars. From understanding the categories to assessing their impact on purchase decisions, we’ve got you covered. Coverage for Category S and N vehicles often comes with a higher cost than insurance for cars that have yet to be written off. Make informed choices when buying a used car in the UK with our expert insights.

What is cat s car meaning?

Cat S, vehicles that have sustained structural damage. This damage can range from minor issues like a dented bumper, a damaged fender, or a broken headlight to more significant damage that makes the vehicle inoperable.

While it is possible to repair Cat S cars and make them roadworthy again, the cost of repairs, especially if they involve replacing multiple parts, can sometimes exceed the total value of the vehicle. 

Common list of damage leading to Cat s car category

Damage that can lead to a car being categorized as Category S (Cat S) typically involves various areas of the vehicle. Common areas of a car that can sustain damage leading to this classification include:

1. Front-end damage:

  • Front bumper
  • Grille
  • Headlights
  • Radiator support
  • Front suspension components

2. Rear-end damage:

  • Rear bumper
  • Taillights
  • Trunk or tailgate
  • Rear suspension components

3. Side damage:

  • Front or rear doors
  • Quarter panels
  • Rocker panels
  • Side impact areas

4. Frame or chassis damage:

  • Bent or twisted frame members
  • Cracked or deformed frame

5. Fire or water damage:

  • Damage resulting from fire or water intrusion.

Who repairs category s cars?

Category S cars can be repaired by certified auto body shops and experienced mechanics. These professionals assess the extent of the damage, replace damaged parts, and restore the vehicle to roadworthy condition. 

Ensure the repair shop is reputable and provides proper documentation for the rebuilt car’s safety and legality.

Are there any risks to buying a cat s car?

Buying a Cat S (formerly known as Category S) car can come with risks. Poorly repaired Cat S cars may be unsafe due to substandard repairs or low-quality salvage parts. Other risks include higher insurance costs, lower resale value, and reduced marketability since many buyers avoid decommissioned vehicles. 

Make sure to thoroughly inspect and verify the car’s repair history before making a decision. Cat S cars also require registration with the DVLA and an engineer’s inspection, resulting in a “Q” registration.

A thorough vehicle inspection should be conducted, professional advice sought, and the risks and costs of maintaining and repairing the car are considered.

What is cat n car meaning?

Cat N, is a classification for vehicles in the UK that have incurred non-structural damage. This category was previously known as Class D. Cat N cars have typically experienced issues like cosmetic or electrical damage, but their structural integrity remains intact. They are deemed repairable, and after necessary repairs, they can be safely driven on the road. 

Cat N cars have not suffered significant structural damage, which distinguishes them from Cat S (Category S) cars that have structural damage. It’s important to note that the reclassification from Cat D to Cat N occurred to provide more clarity regarding the nature of damage a vehicle has sustained, helping buyers make informed decisions when purchasing used cars.

Types of damage leading to cat n category

Category N (formerly known as Cat N) is a classification used in the UK to categorize damaged cars. It means that the vehicle has non-structural damage or no significant structural damage. Specific types of damage and corresponding damaged areas that can lead to its categorization as Category N include:

1. Cosmetic damage:

  • Scratches
  • Dents
  • Paint damage

2. Interior damage:

  • Damage to the seats, dashboard, or interior trim
  • Electrical and electronic system damage:
  • Malfunctioning infotainment systems
  • Non-structural wiring issues

3. Glass damage:

  • Cracked or chipped windows or windshields

4. Light damage:

  • Damage to headlights, taillights, or indicators

5. Suspension and steering damage:

  • Issues with the suspension or steering components, which don’t affect the vehicle’s structure

6. Wheel and tire damage:

  • Bent wheels
  • Flat or damaged tires

Should I buy a category N car?

Suppose you’re considering buying a Category N vehicle in the UK. In that case, it can be a cost-effective option if you are knowledgeable about vehicle repairs or have access to affordable repair services. However, it’s crucial to thoroughly inspect the vehicle and assess the extent of the damage before making a decision. Remember that resale value may be lower for previously written-off cars, and insurance premiums could be higher.

Is it safe to driving a cat N car?

Driving a Category N (formerly Cat N) car can be safe, but it depends on the extent of damage and quality of repairs. Category N vehicles typically have non-structural damage like cosmetic or minor interior issues. If these are fixed correctly and the car passes safety inspections, it can be safe to drive. However, always have the car thoroughly inspected by a qualified mechanic to ensure it’s roadworthy before hitting the road.

How do cat s and cat n differ?

Here’s a table summarizing the key differences between Category S (Cat S) and Category N (Cat N) classifications for damaged cars:

Aspect Category S (Cat S) Category N (Cat N)
Type of Damage Structural or significant structural damage Non-structural or cosmetic damage
Repairability Generally repairable, but may involve major structural repairs Generally repairable with cosmetic or non-structural repairs
Roadworthiness May require extensive repairs to ensure safety and roadworthiness Typically roadworthy with minor repairs
Impact on Value Often has a lower resale value due to the history of structural damage May have a reduced resale value due to the history of damage, but less significant
Insurability May have higher insurance premiums due to the previous structural damage Typically has standard insurance premiums
Extent of Damage Significant structural issues that impact the car’s frame or chassis Non-structural or cosmetic issues that don’t affect the car’s frame or chassis
Examples of Damage Bent frame, structural frame damage, significant suspension damage Cosmetic damage, minor interior damage, electrical issues
Inspection Importance Critical to assess safety and roadworthiness Important for quality and aesthetics, but not as critical for safety

How can I check if a car is categorized as Cat S or Cat N? 

Have you ever wondered whether the car you’re eyeing or already own has been categorized as Cat S or Cat N? Wonder no more! The Auto Experts are here to provide you with a reliable and easy solution. 

Our user-friendly platform allows you to check your vehicle’s category effortlessly. Whether you’re a buyer, seller, or just curious about a car’s history, we’ve got you covered. With a few clicks, you can access essential information about any car’s damage history, including whether it’s Category S or Category N.

Don’t take chances with your automotive investments. Trust The Auto Experts to give you peace of mind and ensure you’re making informed decisions. We must purchase write-off checks directly from our trusted partner at this time, and we are charged for access to this data. You can check the write-off status of any UK car, van, or bike for just £9.99 – regardless of its age.


Cat N and Cat S cars are categories used by insurers to classify accident-damaged vehicles. Cat N means non-structural damage, often repairable, while Cat S indicates structural damage, requiring more extensive repairs. Always inspect and assess the repair history to make a safe and informed choice when buying such cars. Safety first!