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With the new car market beginning to slow down, the used car market is moving from strength-to-strength as cost conscious motorists seek alternative value for their hard-earned cash. Cazana.com reports an expected level of around 8.2 million used car transactions to be confirmed for 2017 and this is likely to rise by around 4.8 per cent to 8.6 million in 2018.
While decent deals can be found, the used car market is often fraught with murky histories and hard-nosed salesman, making it difficult to find the best deal on the right car, every time. Rupert Pontin, director of valuations at Cazana.com, has spent more than 30 years helping the used car industry thrive. In this article, he reveals seven tips from inside the motor trade, which can help you get the best deal when you buy a used car.
Late December, February and August are typically the best times of the year to purchase a used vehicle. The car market is driven by the release of new registration plates and the change of the year of manufacture, meaning dealers will be facing tough volume and profit targets before these come into the market in January, March and September.
Shopping during the early days of December will enhance your chances of a bargain too, as dealers seek to turn stock into cash for the year-end financial accounts and most retail consumers are too pre-occupied with Christmas to think about their motoring needs.
Data from Cazana shows that one in three used vehicles in the UK has a negative history. Furthermore, 93 per cent of 18-24-year-olds who visited the company's website in 2017 purchased a used car without bothering to request the vehicle’s full history, meaning they have no idea if it is stolen, on finance, ex-rental, or even safe to drive.
If a used vehicle offer looks too good to be true, it just might be! It’s important to carry out a full vehicle history check and complete thorough research on the vehicle you want to buy before handing over any cash. That way you can be sure that you are getting the very best bang for your buck.
According to the Finance and Leasing Association, up to the end of November 2017 86 per cent of private new car sales in 2017 were bought on finance. Many dealers will use finance to make extra profit from commission on high interest rates, but tough negotiation can bring the flat rate down, reducing monthly payments significantly. In some cases, you will be able to get a better rate from your bank or well-known finance companies, than directly from a dealer, so it’s worth shopping around.
When it comes to the most popular car colour, you just can’t beat black. The SMMT recently announced that black was the most popular colour for new vehicles purchased in 2017 and Cazana data shows that black also topped the used car charts last year (21.4 per cent).
What does this mean? The most popular vehicle specifications tend to hold the greatest value over time, so if you buy a black car today, chances are it will hold its value in the years ahead, when you sell it back to the used vehicle market.
Cazana data has revealed that Yorkshire and the Humber is typically the cheapest region in England for buying a used vehicle. When purchasing a 2014 Ford Fiesta petrol model with around 30,000 miles on the clock, the average price from a Yorkshire dealership is £12,389, compared to an average price of £12,668 in the East Midlands, and £14,110.33 in London (the highest average price you will pay).
By comparing regional prices, you may even find that a journey from one end of the country to another is worth the discount you can find on a used vehicle!
Selecting the type of car to buy can be difficult as you never know how the market will change, as it can easily be influenced by manufacturers and new legislation. One way to protect your investment is to opt for the best specification you can afford and don’t be worried about considering older premium badge models with higher mileage. If maintained well, premium models can be a safe bet and tend to hold their value better than mainstream models. For example, Cazana data shows a ten-year-old BMW 530d M Sport Touring auto retains 20 per cent of its original cost new at an average 97,000 miles, whereas a ten-year-old Ford Mondeo 2.0 TDCi Zetec Hatchback Manual retains 13 per cent of its original cost new at 100,000 miles.
Ex-fleet and ex-rental cars are in the press for the wrong reasons these days. A significant number of used vehicles will have been used by a business in the first months and years of life - but this is no bad thing!
Ex-rental cars are likely to be in better condition than private vehicles. This is because company health and safety policies dictate that every employee must have a well maintained and safe vehicle. Equally, company drivers know that the costs of service and repair will not fall on their shoulders and are more likely to have regular services than private owners. If it’s a mechanically sound and safe used vehicle you are looking for then it pays to search the ex-rental and ex fleet market.