Trusted used car dealers have been accused of selling insurance write-offs without telling buyers the vehicles had been damaged in a crash following an investigation by the BBC.
BBC's Rip Off Britain television programme has identified 70 such vehicles during its investigations.
The consumer programme said that the situation could mean that buyers are paying "thousands of pounds" more for the cars than they are actually worth.
Rip Off Britain, said: “Sales staff at the UK's largest used car retailer, Evans Halshaw, and two other big name chains, Arnold Clark and Car Store, told undercover reporters from the BBC's Rip Off Britain that they were selling cars that had never been written-off, when in fact, thanks to serious damage from major collisions, they had indeed been written-off by insurance companies.
“This could mean buyers are paying thousands of pounds more for the cars than they are really worth.
“Rip Off Britain's undercover reporters identified a number of insurance write-off vehicles that had been for sale at salvage auctions just months earlier with extensive damage, which then appeared on the forecourts of car dealerships with no sign of their flawed history.”
AutoExpress journalist Hugo Griffiths has uncovered significant gaps in the official database used by consumers and dealerships to check second hand cars' history and estimated that 80,000 write offs a year (around 12% of the total for sale) could be repaired and put back on the road, with new owners having no idea of their car's chequered past.
Vehicles that the programme had identified as write offs and spotted a series of tell-tale signs of the cars' past, adding that he was surprised that given the extent of the repairs he came across, there were no concerns raised by whoever assessed the cars at the companies before they ended up on sale.
My Car Inspections regulary inspect vehicles that are advertised as being Hpi Clear despite them having been subject to significant accident damage. These vehicles are often later added to the insurers MIAFTA data base which records Cat A,B, N and S damaged cars but also those that are unrecorded due to them being unisured at the time of loss.
Our own case studies can be found here