How to Check if a Car Has Been Scrapped in the UK?
When buying a second hand or used car, there are some essentials you need to consider if you want to be sure it is the right vehicle to buy. And one of the most important checks you can do is to check if the vehicle has been previously scrapped.
A car that has been formally classed as scrapped by the DVLA cannot be sold or used on the roads. So, buying a car that has been officially labelled as scrapped can be a costly mistake.
Here’s how to check if a car has been scrapped in the UK.
What does ‘scrapped’ actually mean?
In the UK, if a car, motorbike, or any other vehicle has been scrapped then it means it has been permanently removed from the road and cannot be legally driven or used. The most common reasons for a car to be scrapped include age, it can no longer be repaired or maintained, or has been written off after a serious road accident or collision. Your insurance company may also deem a car for scrap if it has become too costly to repair, say after an accident.
It’s important to note that a scrapped car is different to a written off car as it has not been repaired. Written off vehicles can sometimes go on to be repaired, and so can legally return to the road. A formally scrapped car will have a scrap marker against it on the DVLA database and can never be used or driven again.
Many scrapped cars are destroyed by crushing, but this is not always the case. A lot of scrapped vehicles go on to be used for parts and so can remain largely intact – and so still technically driveable – for some time. It is, however, illegal to drive a car that has been officially scrapped on the public highway.
How does a car get ‘scrapped’?
If a car cannot be repaired, has been written off or is simply too old to be on the road, it will need to be formally scrapped. And to do this, you need to obtain a Certificate of Destruction – or COD – which is a record that the vehicle has been permanently removed from the road. The COD is also proof that you have handed over the car and are no longer responsible for it.
To scrap a vehicle, you must take it to an authorised treatment facility, such as a scrap or breaker’s yard, which is usually free although you may be charged. You will also need the car’s V5C logbook, although you should keep the yellow ‘sell, transfer or part-exchange your vehicle to the motor trade’ section. To let the DVLA know you have scrapped the vehicle, you also need the 11-digit reference number from the cars logbook. Then, to inform the DVLA you are no longer the owner of the vehicle, you should send them the yellow section of the car’s logbook or complete these details online.
Once the DVLA has been informed and a COD is issued, the vehicle can no longer be sold, used, or driven on the road.
How do I check if a vehicle has ever been scrapped?
If you are wanting to know whether a car you are considering buying has been previously scrapped or have sold a car and are wondering ‘has my old car been scrapped?’, then you need to get a scrapped car or certificate of destruction check done.
Once registered with the DVLA, a scrap marker cannot be removed from a vehicle, so it will always be on its record. And this record will answer your ‘has my car been scrapped’ question. If you want to check whether a vehicle has been previously scrapped, the DVLA will charge to release the information to you. Alternatively, you can check if a car has been scrapped as part of a salvage history check, which gives you peace of mind when looking to purchase a used or second-hand vehicle.
How long does it take for a vehicle to be scrapped?
You could face a fine of up to £1,000 if you do not inform the DVLA that you have scrapped a vehicle. Once the correct information has been received by the DVLA, it can take up to four weeks for confirmation to be sent to you that your vehicle has been officially registered as scrapped.
Who is responsible for providing COD?
It is the DVLA’s responsibility to issue a Certificate of Destruction for your scrapped car. The COD is issued to the authorised treatment facility (ATF) you took your car to. ATFs are required to ‘dismantle, depollute and dispose’ of your scrap vehicle and then electronically update the DVLA. It is once this has been done, that the DVLA issue the Certificate of Destruction.
Why is the Certificate of Destruction essential?
The Certificate of Destruction is a legal requirement and demonstrates that the vehicle is off the road, and you are no longer responsible for it.
However, an important thing to note is that the scrapyard you handed the vehicle over to may choose to use it for scrap parts and so it isn’t completely destroyed. It is the ATF’s choice what they do with the vehicle and so in this case, you will not be required to have a Certificate of Destruction. Instead, you will be issued with a letter, stating you are no longer responsible for the car.
So, when surrendering a car for scrapping, the end result must be either a COD or formal proof that you no longer own or are responsible for vehicle in question.
Is buying a scrapped car a good idea?
The short answer is NO. You should never knowingly or deliberately purchase a scrapped vehicle as it is illegal for it to be sold to you. And, as the scrapped vehicle doesn’t officially exist, you won’t be able to insure it or drive it legally on the UK’s public roads.
Buying a scrapped car will ultimately be a costly business and so when looking for a second hand, getting a comprehensive car check before you hand over your hard-earned cash is a wise investment.