Another used vehicle scam you should know about: Do you own a Code 3 car?

accreditation
0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Welding two cars together
Welding two cars together
Packaging Guy

If a vehicle has been in a serious collision or declared a write-off, some fabricators weld front or rear sections of the same chassis to the existing structure.

A tell-tale sign of chassis welding is when the rear of the vehicle moves to one side when driving straight.

Checking for weld marks on the rear pillars and undercarriage are visible ways to spot.

For more motoring stories, visit Wheels24.



Most seasoned motorists have gone through the motions of buying secondhand vehicles. Filling in the yellow form and doing the subsequent roadworthy test all form part of the age-old process. Secondhand vehicles aren't perfect, and most of the time, the buyer will need to spend a bit of cash to get it in top shape - unless, of course, it is a pristine example.

While the secondhand market is a great avenue to find something that suits your pocket, there are many pitfalls to be mindful of when browsing the various local dealer classifieds.

Earlier in May, Wheels24 reported on vehicles that could possibly have had their odometers reversed without the owner even knowing, leading to future mechanical issues and selling the buyer short in the process.

YUNCHENG, CHINA - FEBRUARY 21: An employee welds t
A welder


Brighton Body and Spray's Mike Van Eijk (Jnr) says it is pretty essential to properly inspect a vehicle when you're planning to buy a used one. 

Van Eijk Jnr says: "It is not just two half cars being welded together to look out for. Any shoddy repairs can be a potential headache in the future. If a person does not have the knowledge, they should ask someone who does to assist. Getting the opinion of their body repairer is always a good idea. If the buyer notices a problem, they should notify the seller immediately as this opens the room for price negotiation, too - depending on the vehicle's condition.

"People should also know what a Code 3 vehicle is. This is when a car is written off and has been deregistered. However, with that said, a vehicle could also have been written off but not deregistered by the owner/insurer. This is then registered as a Code 2 vehicle and is the same as any other second-hand hand car because the damage has been repaired. 

"You should make sure what exactly has been done to the vehicle you're considering purchasing, so ask as many questions as possible. It may look to be in acceptable condition on the surface, but below the surface, there might be nasty surprises. A person might get away without having future problems with the vehicle, but you need to ask yourself, is it really worth the risk?

"If you have an accident or have been in one with a poorly repaired vehicle, it could potentially be dangerous. If crucial components were not repaired/replaced to proper standards, it could cause the vehicle's intended crumple zones to react differently than intended. This could result in injuries or even loss of life."

Beware of the weld

Another alarming scenario is where vehicles that have previously been involved in serious collisions or declared a 'write-off' by an insurance company, have their front or rear sections cut off and welded back together using a frame from another car with the same chassis.

An unsuspecting buyer won't be able to tell it is two chassis have been 'fused' together because any sort of evidence can only be confirmed by putting a vehicle on a lift to check for the weld marks, or removing the interior roof linings.


Have you bought a used car only to discover it is a Code 3 vehicle which has previously been written off? Please email us, or share your comments in the section below.



A tell-tale sign of chassis welding is when the rear of the vehicle you're driving behind moves to one side when going straight, or it has been involved in an accident without having the chassis being correctly straightened and does not necessarily mean a vehicle has been welded or written off. It could also relate to suspension problems. Another way to make sure is to check for weld marks on the vehicle's undercarriage, or under the interior carpets.

READ: Watch out for vehicles with reversed odometers - here's how you can avoid buying a 'trap'

A vehicle is declared a write-off when the amount to have its accidental damage fixed exceeds its overall value. Some people grind off the damaged section(s), find a shell of the exact vehicle intact and weld the non-affected section.

Structural integrity

Stitch welding and fitting a roll-cage is a common way in which to improve chassis rigidity where competitive circuit or drag racing is concerned, the difference compared to a standard chassis welding is that the structural integrity is strengthened whereas the normal weld does not - and also because a race car will never be used on the public road, purpose-built for a specific application.

Just like reversed odometer's, the majority of buyers won't know if the vehicle they're interested in has been welded together - bar the minute crowd that is detail specific with a fine eye for possible irregularities.

By principle, if your vehicle's frame is bent, broken, welded, or damaged in any way, and you sell the vehicle, you have to disclose that information to the buyer. With that said, instead of doing so and for the seller to make a profit, the buyer is, unfortunately, none the wiser and sitting behind the wheel of a potential death trap.

Professional panel shops can have a vehicle's chassis straightened the correct way and use the necessary equipment.

Porsche Taycan chassis
A car's chassis
We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
Who do you think is the better F1 driver between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Lewis Hamilton
34% - 422 votes
Max Verstappen
66% - 806 votes
Vote