One in 10 UK imports previously written off

New research from consumer car-history check experts MyWheels.ie, carried out on behalf of the Irish Independent, shows that one in 10 vehicles imported this year had previously been written off. The investigation also found that the number of imported write-offs is rising month on month.

Sources claim that unscrupulous sellers, not legitimate businesses, are increasingly using Ireland as an easy route to ‘wash’ cars with dubious histories.

The study, covering the first six months of 2015, found that out of 33,486 vehicles imported, 2,963 (8.85 per cent) had previously been written off.

These cars had been in crashes so serious that, at best, they required major repairs and, at worst, they should never have been allowed back on the road.

The risk for buyers lies not just with older vehicles. A number of two-year-old cars with potentially dangerous defects had been brought in for sale too.

All classes of vehicles are included – cars, vans and even motorcycles.

A total of 22 cars reported stolen in the UK were also imported and registered here in the first six months.

The report is based on an analysis of the complete database of UK market write-offs – providing an extensive insight into the movement of cars to the Irish market.

It is believed that it is much easier to sell a used import under the regulatory radar here than it is with Irish-based cars.

Niall Kavanagh, spokesperson at MyWheels.ie said, that while there were good controls to manage Irish write-offs, those for imports were not nearly as effective. He said, ‘We are seeing a disproportionate number of vehicles (that were) written off in the UK being imported into Ireland.’

He urged the Government to bring in strict, mandatory cross-checks. Mr Kavanagh said he was worried at the rate and level of imported write-offs.

‘We are concerned about the safety of some of these cars for those who buy them. Many category C and D write-offs are back on the road, but anyone planning to buy needs to take precautions to avoid ending up with an unsafe or uninsured vehicle.’

When an Irish car is written off, insurers notify the National Vehicle and Driver File office in Shannon, a ‘lock’ is put on those vehicles and the registered owner is told the vehicle needs a major mechanical check-over before being passed.

With used imports, cars go through an NCT test if they are four years or older. The NCT (the Irish equivalent of the MOT) test is reckoned to do a good job, but by its nature it is not designed for detecting all write-offs.

According to the Department of Transport’s own memo, detecting write-offs requires specialist engineers taking a lot of time to assess a vehicle’s repair history and structure.