Storm Damage

A van being struck by lightning in a storm, with floodwaters rising around it. Several buildings are visible in the background.

Are you in the market for a used vehicle? Don’t forget to complete a $2 PPSR search before you buy – you never know what it could be hiding.

Just like mechanical and registration checks, doing a PPSR search immediately before you buy can give you additional peace of mind.

While checking if the car is debt-free and safe from possible repossession, a $2 PPSR search pulls data about the vehicle from the National Exchange of Vehicle and Driver Information System (NEVDIS). This can tell you if the car has previously been reported as a write-off, which often happens after large weather events such as floods, fires and hailstorms.

There are two types of write-offs recorded in NEVDIS that may appear on a PPSR search certificate – statutory write-offs and repairable write-offs.

Statutory write-offs are unable to be re-registered and can only be used as spare parts. A car is generally classed as a statutory write-off because it would be unsafe to repair it. This might be due to structural damage (like a bent chassis) or extensive damage.

If you buy a car that's a statutory write-off, you won't be able to get it road registered, even if you repair it.

Repairable write-offs are generally classed as a write-off because the repairs needed are likely to cost more than the market value of the car (like hail damage). In some states and territories, repairable write-offs can be repaired to a particular standard, assessed and re-registered.

It's important that you check with your local road transport authority on how they treat these cars before purchasing a repairable write-off – you may find it difficult to register or insure a car that has been classed as a repairable write-off.

If your search returns a result for a write-off, it will provide information about the incident which caused the write-off, the damage location and the severity of the damage.

More information about the types of write-off codes is available on the PPSR website.

Remember, if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Storm damaged cars are often sold at a reduced price due to the challenges of registering and insuring them. To learn more about the process of registering a previously written-off car in your state, contact your relevant road transport authority.

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