Here are 10 good reasons why now might be the right time to think about buying a secondhand car
Published 24/08/2016 | 02:30
It's still only late August but all of a sudden everything has gone quiet on the new-car sales front.
And that's what may make this a particularly good time to think about buying a newer secondhand vehicle.
I am not suggesting you go out and buy if it will in any way impinge on strained finances.
But if you have a few euro set aside or you can get money at a reasonable rate and your own car is beginning to look and feel its age, this might be as good a time as any to consider a step up.
The stock traded-in with dealers is quite fresh because people who bought new in 2013 are coming back as their three-year finance deals are maturing.
Anything that just isn't more than decent is traded out of the retail market as it is too costly to repair and stock.
That should help ensure a high proportion of relatively low mileage, fresh used motors.
So here, in no particular order, are 10 reasons to think about buying newer.
1. It has been a year of quite sharp highs and lows. The dual-reg plate has completely revolutionised people's timing of their new-car purchase. Not to mention their method of buying.
Personal Contract Plans have moved firmly centre stage as a means of people getting into a new car.
But a key part of the entire process is the trade-in, the secondhand car.
And as most new-car sales involve a trade-in there are, as already mentioned, good levels of decent stock around.
Not so long ago a good, fresh secondhand car was a rarity. Of late, with the surge in buying new, there is a far more plentiful supply. That means more and better choice for your money.
2. The secondhand import gate has opened wide again since February, meaning there's a larger pool to pick from overall.
3. Some dealers are looking at fairly high stock levels of used cars.
The thing about secondhand stock that is often overlooked is that they cost a lot of money to keep in tip-top condition.
Every day and every week they are lying there, they cost.
For example, it costs to keep them clean, in interest payments on overdrafts required to maintain cash flow.
Selling new is fine (though margins can be quite tight in a competitive market). But selling a used car, even a good fresh one, can involve a lot of work in touching up, checking over and preparation.
That is one reason to shop around as much as you can. You'd be surprised how some dealers, in different situations and with different numbers of a given model, can offer you a much better deal than others.
4. Some finance houses are offering PCPs on fairly-new used cars. It's one way of funding your next motor.
Check out the details as thoroughly as you can and make sure you are fully aware of your commitment and what is involved.
There is a lot of confusion out there.
5. If your car is pre-2008 reg you are probably spending hundreds extra each year on road tax and fuel costs.
A newer car will almost certainly cut your road tax and most newer cars are a fair bit more fuel efficient than older models.
As well as that there is no denying the vast strides made in making cars safer. It is something we often overlook.
6. Your car may be way beyond its deprecation date, which is another way of saying it is costing you nothing so why not hold onto it until it gives up the ghost?
I can't argue with that. If it's worth little or nothing now it is not going to change any time soon.
But there are the elements of road tax, safety and fuel consumption I've already mentioned to take into account.
However, if your car is five, six, seven years old it is still worth a decent few euro but the gap to a three-year-old is widening all the time and it will hit your pocket.
Staying with a fairly modern car means you can more or less plan for purchase on a regular basis.
That is, in an ideal world, better than having to dig really deep less frequently. But for some people that is impossible and they just have to hang on for another year or two until their circumstances improve.
7. And circumstances do change. You may not need a newer car but you may need one that does something different for you.
For example, if your family is growing you may be better off and safer with a larger saloon, estate, SUV or people carrier. Convenience comes at a price, I agree, but are you happy with three children squashed into the back of a hatchback when they go back so school soon?
Especially the one who has to sit in the narrow middle seat? They are not going to get any smaller and maybe a change before the school year starts is worth considering.
8. If you are shocked beyond belief at the cost of rental accommodation for your teen son or daughter as they prepare for third-level, take a look at the figures for buying a good used car and letting him or her commute.
Over the past couple of years, I've done the maths for a few people who were off the public-transport track and it made a lot of financial sense.
9. Maybe the cost of getting through your next NCT test is going to be more than it's worth. Maybe not. Maybe with a year to go to your next NCT, this is the time to sell as it represents a reasonable timescale. Selling too close to NCT sets off alarm bells.
10. It may sound obvious and trite but dealers will have more time to talk and shape your deal now that the heavy-selling period is over. That means a lot. It also means their focus is more on shifting older metal.