Spot a cut and shut

Cut and shut motors are commonplace on the secondhand car market. Here's how to spot one

Cut and shut motors were born when an idle welder mused whether he could fuse the unmarked front end of a car which had been in a rear-end shunt and the unmarked rear end of a similar model which had suffered a frontal smash.

Considerable effort goes into the deception – cutting, welding, prepping, spraying, etc – but it is a deception, and there are no guarantees of structural integrity, safety, driveability, high speed handling, braking. It could be a deathtrap. It's essential, therefore, to be able to identify these vehicles on the secondhand market.

How to spot a 'cut and shut'

Official estimates say there could be 30,000 cut and shuts on UK roads. The problem is a vehicle history check would only pick up on outstanding finance or if a car had been a write-off. However, background investigation firm HPI had this advice:1. Cut and shuts are usually joined at the top of the rear windscreen and through the C-pillars. Pay close attention to these areas, and check the upholstery, too.2. Keep an eye out for any uneven panel gaps and mismatched or varying paint shades.3. Check for faint traces of paint spray on door handles and any spillage on the window seals.4. Never view a car in the rain or poor light. It’s harder to spot those important obvious flaws.5. Find the car’s VIN number – does it correspond with what appears on the paperwork?6. Look at the service history and past MoT certificates if available, and question any unexplained gaps.7. Be wary of extremely cheap cars – if a deal sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

There’s only one way to fully protect against cut and shuts – have the car professionally inspected, and get a background report for extra peace of mind. An RAC Vehicle Examination starts at £125, and Status Checks cost £24.95. For details, visit www.rac.co.uk/checks or call 0800 975 5867.

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