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Buying a second hand car can be a minefield. One of the best rules to follow when you are in the market for a used car is to never take anything at face value. The cars that you are looking at could have been stolen, could have been involved in an accident and been written off or even worse could be what is termed a cut and shut vehicle. You need to know what to look out for when shopping for a second hand car so that you can spot one relatively easily and make sure you avoid buying one.

What is a Cut and Shut Car?

If you have never heard the term before the concept of the shut and cut car is very simple. Take a car that has been involved in a rear end collision, and a car that has been involved in a front end collision. In theory only half of each car has been damaged leaving a perfectly good half a car going spare. Set to work with some welding equipment and stick the front end of one car to the back end of another and there you have a cut and shut car.

Of course the cars have to be of the same model or else you would end up with some kind of ridiculous clown car, and some considerable effort goes into making it look like one complete car. The finished car will look quite good it’s what you can’t see and can’t know that is important. You have no guarantee about the strength of the structural reliability of the car, the driveability, all of the systems from the front of the car need to be linked to those at the back of the car such as brakes and lights etc. You have no guarantee that the brakes are going to withstand daily use. Take one of these cars onto a motorway and start travelling at speed and it could become a death trap.

Spotting a Cut and Shut

According to several driving agencies it is estimated that there could be around 30,000 of these cut and shut cars on the roads in the UK. Running a history check on the car is all well and good but it will only tell you if the car has been reported stolen, been declared a write off or has outstanding finance against it. What you need to do is give the car a thorough visual examination.

  • Pay close attention to the top of the rear windscreen as this is where cut and shuts are generally joined together, also pay attention to the car upholstery and make sure it is consistent throughout the car.
  • Look for variation in the shade of paint on the car, gaps between the panels that are uneven or parts of the car that simply look mismatched.
  • Look for evidence of re-spraying. Check the door handles and window trims for paint traces.
  • Make sure that you view the car in a well illuminated area, never in poor light or in the rain as it will make it harder for you to spot the signs.
  • Make sure that the cars VIN number matches that on the paperwork for the car.

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