how to spot a cut and shut when buying a second hand car feature image

How To Spot A Cut And Shut When Buying A Second Hand Car

12th Apr, 2017

Cut and shut is a term you may have heard applied to second-hand cars, but maybe you weren’t quite sure what it meant. Is it a good thing, or a bad thing? Well, we’re sorry to say, bad. Very, very bad. Cut and shut cars pose a very dangerous risk to motorists – although they were once more common decades ago, the problem still hasn’t entirely gone away. So what exactly is a cut and shut car, any why should you be worried about it?

What Is A Cut And Shut Car?

 cut and shut car inspection

Don’t let the catchy name fool you – cut and shuts are much more sinister than they sound. Basically, the term refers to a single vehicle that’s been jigsawed together from the remains of two separate write-offs. In these cases, the undamaged sections are removed and then welded together to make a new car.

These cut and shuts are hugely dangerous to motorists. You see, the people who perform this impromptu vehicular surgery are generally more concerned with shifting them for profit than they are about doing a good job that guarantees safety. The structural integrity of the cars are altered so that these scrap cars can be liable to fall apart completely with even the slightest impact. So not only does it make it dangerous to you, the driver, but also any other passengers and likely any motorists around you. It’s essentially a perfect storm of everything you don’t want in a second hand car – but luckily, there are some easy checks you can make to ensure that you’re not buying a cut and shut.

How Can I Make Sure I’m Not Buying A Cut And Shut Vehicle?

used car for sale

We talked the other week about how to make sure you’re not buying a stolen car, and to be honest many of the same rules apply. Have your wits about you when looking at the price – in the motoring world, anything that looks too good to be true generally is.

Even a skilled cut and shutter isn’t able to hide all the hallmarks of such a major operation, so giving it a cursory check over might be wise to see if you can spot any panels that stand out from the general surface, or signs of a hasty, imperfect spray. You might even be able to see the actual join, so always make sure you’re checking the car under good lighting, and not in the dark or rain. The upholstery is another thing to take a ganders at, as seams or rushed craftsmanship can be visible there, too.

Does The Paper work check out?

car paperwork

We’ve got some good news for you on that front. Part of the reason that cut and shuts are becoming rarer is that paperwork systems have got a lot stricter in recent decades. Spotty paperwork is a major obstacle for cut and shutters, as they have to essentially present a mishmash history of two (until recently) separate cars, and hope no one looks too closely. That’s why it’s in your interests to cast a beady eye over absolutely everything before you buy a car. Are there any irregularities in its financing history? Any breaks or gaps in its maintenance, or missed MOTs?

An easy tell-tale sign is to check the VIN. We went into more detail about this in a previous post, but essentially a car’s VIN is its individual fingerprint. No two are the same, and each car only has one. If you find two separate VINs on the body of the car, then it’s a cut and shut – no question. You can find the VIN in:

  • Front of the engine block
  • Front of the car frame
  • Rear wheel well
  • Inside the driver-side door
  • Driver-side doorpost
  • In the boot, underneath the spare tyre

We’ll end on a light note; as we’ve mentioned in passing above, cut and shutting doesn’t seem to be nearly as widespread a practice as it used to be in the UK. That’s a lot to do with tightened legislation and savvy buyers, who are more easily spotting the dangerous cars. Having said that though, it’s estimated that there are still as many as 30,000 on the roads today, which means that it’s still quite possible to stumble across one. It’s worth being careful!

At Scrap Car Network, integrity is our middle name. (Or actually we guess it’s technically ‘Car’, but you know what we mean.) All of our partners are licensed Authorised Treatment Facilities, which guarantees you a reliable, trustworthy service. Click here to read about some other reasons to choose us, or get started immediately on scrapping your car by simply entering your car reg and postcode into our website today!

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter: @ScrapCarNetwork