Brisbane Hail Sale Cars. Would You Buy?

Brisbane has experienced some wild weather in recent years, the massive flooding that happened in January of 2011 resulted in a lot of damage. Every year during the summer months some storms also hit with hail and these affect many car owners. Some hail damaged cars are fixed on insurance while other cars are sold at auction. There were even some Brisbane car dealers that were forced to close due to the extent of the damage.

Hail sale cars are drivable although some may have been in flood waters or damaged by falling trees. We wrote an article on Brisbane salvage auctions some weeks ago.

There are two types of write-offs for vehicles damaged in storms. As far as I know (and someone might be able to clarify further) there is what is termed “Statutory write-off and “repairable” write-off.

If you are buying a hail sale car, then your damaged vehicle might fall into one of the two categories.

Statutory Write Offs – are where the damage to the car is so severe it cannot be safely repaired and, therefore, registered (see also Queensland Department of Transport comments at the bottom of this article). The vehicles usually end up being sold for spare parts or scrap metal.

Repairable Write Offs are where the damaged cars can be registered but only after a WOVI or Written off vehicle inspection is undertaken by the Department of Transport. This is disclosure to potential buyers of the history of the car. Some hail sale cars may be unroadworthy until fixed, e.g., Broken headlights, taillights, indicators, etc.   It’s important if you are hunting for cheap hail sale cars in Brisbane that you get the vehicle thoroughly checked.

If you are at a hail damaged vehicle auction, then be aware that the auctioneer must announce at the start of the auction that the car is written off and that its a repairable write-off and must pass a written-off vehicle inspection or that its a statutory write-off and cannot be reregistered. More information here.

You can do a PPSR or Personal Property Securities Register search which may help if the vehicle has been written-off, has money on it or stolen. For motorcycle buyers, statutory write-offs are where the motor cycle has been in salt water for any period or in fresh water for 48 hours.

Private sellers of hail damaged cars in Brisbane

You can find hail sale cars in the courier mail being advertised privately; the volume normally is greater apparently after a major hail storm. Online websites like have a section for hail damaged cars – here. You might also want to try the trading post although the popularity of using traditional print media has declined due to the ability to see photographs online. With gumtree just type the words “hail damaged cars” into the search box, and you will see private sellers who are selling their hail damaged vehicles.

Trovit: Another excellent online website is called “Trovit”. Trovit is like a “catch all” aggregator of advertisements online and is searchable as well you can create alerts to alert you of anything to do with vehicles. In this case, you can search Trovit for keywords like “hail damaged” – See example here. Trovit will grab hail sale cars in Brisbane from all types of sites such as eBay,, newspaper sites and smaller online car sites that I didn’t even know about such as get used vehicles, sells good, buying cars (these are websites). You might also find some of the sites like offering hail sale vehicles.

Buying hail sale cars at auction:

There are two main players in the Brisbane auction scene for hail sale cars. They are Manheim Auctions and Pickles car auctions. These two companies put through huge volumes of vehicles after major Brisbane storms of hail damaged automobiles. Pickles Car Auctions for example in December 2014 were auctioning up to 400 hail damaged vehicles with reportedly two cars being sold every minute. There were many bargains to be had although the media also issued warnings from the Insurance Council of Australia and the RACQ about buying hail sale cars – See below.

Manheim Auctions.

Manheim is one of the biggest motor vehicle auction houses in Australia. They have auction rooms nationwide and are long established in the industry. Manheim Auctions hold weekly trade and public auctions of passenger cars and commercial vehicles as well as four wheel drives. Truck and machinery auctions are held monthly.

At the time of writing, Manheim auctions were not selling hail sale cars in Brisbane. The last noted sale that I could see was back on the 16 January 2015.

No doubt, if there’s another storm, then Manheim will be selling quite some lots which hail sale vehicles provided by insurance companies, automotive dealers and private owners.

It’s best if you hear of any hail sale cars being auctioned in the news to check the likes of auction companies such as Manheim who will be updating their website with catalogues of the vehicles to be auctioned. Sometimes hail sale car auctions are called “salvage vehicle” auctions.

As an example, our previous article on salvage vehicle auctions in Brisbane noted as many as 58,000 cars damaged in Brisbane in the 2014 super storm that hit Brisbane. Additionally, 2,800 claims were for commercial vehicles. That’s a lot of vehicles damaged and this created a boom not only for panel beaters but for Brisbane auction houses to offload “as is” damaged hail sale cars.

One final word on buying hail sale cars

One last word which was also mentioned in our previous article on people buying hail sale cars at Brisbane auctions. You may have trouble reinsuring your vehicle. Rob Whelan from the Insurance Council of Australia was noted in the media as saying buyers will face a much harder time to comprehensively insure these vehicles, and remember, it is largely the insurers that are selling these cars so perhaps there’s a record to note that it was a hail sale vehicle that you purchased. Queensland’s peak motoring body, the RACQ also warned buyers to be cautious about buying hail damaged vehicles in terms of factoring in repair costs. Sometimes the cost of repair may exceed the market value of the vehicle upon a final fix. Panel beating, taking out the bumps and scratches from the vehicle, looking over the electricals if its been in the water, glass repair, your time sourcing parts if through the wreckers or secondhand market or that of your panel beater finding parts all takes time and money and sometimes these repair costs of your so called “bargain hail sale vehicle” may turn out to be a costly exercise. Water damage for instance is usually not as visual as say panel damage. Sometimes parts of New South Wales experience flooding and you have to be mindful of interstate vehicles being bought into Queensland to be sold. This scenario is called “rebirthing” where vehicles are repaired and reregistered. You never know that the vehicle you want to buy at a Brisbane hail sale auction could also have significant water damage.

Queensland Transport and Main Roadshave issued some guidance with respect to hail damage cars. Remember, your vehicle may become unroadworthy if damaged or buying a hail sale car. Everyday things that make a vehicle unroadworthy are broken or cracked windows, broken tail lights or headlights or indicators, damaged windscreen wiper arms. Panel damage to the vehicle as a result of being damaged in a storm may also pose a risk to pedestrians. The Department of Transport site has also information about “Written off hail damaged vehicles” and this is worth reading if your car was affected or you intend to buy a hail damaged car either privately or by auction. Even if your car has been written off by your insurance company, you may be able to arrange with the insurers to keep your car as part of the settlement. Written-off vehicles however may have to undergo a written-off vehicle inspection or WOVI before it can be reregistered or driven on the road. It would be best to ring the Department of Transport for more information on DOT requirements change and may have been updated since my article. Their number is 13 23 89.

Factory Warranties: Perhaps the car is still covered under a factory warranty. If so, you need to head to a dealership and see whether the vehicles factory warranty has any conditions that void it.  Many late model and luxury cars were being sold at the Brisbane hail sale auctions.

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