We’re a nation that loves our automobiles, and traditionally, this time of year is ideal for purchasing a used car.
But a mixture of unexpected events has thrown a spanner in the works, and now might not be such a good time to pick up a second-hand bargain. So, what’s going on with the car markets at the moment? And should you try and pick up a motor now, or wait a while?
When is a good time to buy a used car?
Historically, September is a great month for buying second-hand cars. The biggest reason for this is the rollout of new number plates.
Number plates in the UK change in March and September. This means that during these months, new cars are extremely popular. These people buying new cars typically already have a car that then needs to be sold.
So you’re left with a nice little one-two combo:
- An increasing number of people are selling used cars, which increases the overall supply
- People are in a hurry to sell their old cars, making it easier to drive a hard bargain!
However, things have gone a little off-track recently, and this tidy arrangement isn’t what it used to be.
Why is now a bad time for buying a used car?
Along with September traditionally being a great month, the deals usually spill over until the end of December. This is because dealers are still trying to clear inventory, and as the end of the year approaches, they’ll offer good deals in order to try and hit their yearly targets.
But this logic doesn’t run so well right now for a few reasons:
- There are still ongoing issues with the manufacturing of new cars due to staffing problems arising from the coronavirus pandemic.
- A global semi-conductor shortage is slowing down production lines.
- This squeeze on the supply of new cars slams the brakes on this tried and tested way of getting deals on second-hand cars.
Those who are unable to buy the new car they want will either hold onto their current car or check the used car marketplace, right?
Well, because everyone is following that same logic, it’s really difficult to get hold of popular cars. And economics lesson number one tells us that high demand and low supply means higher prices.
How can you get a good deal on a used car?
So, this is the part where I’m going to help you steal a deal with four helpful tips.
1. Buy out of season
This means that if you’re planning to buy a car in Autumn or Winter, try and go for vehicles that tend to be more popular during the summer.
So look out for convertibles, sports cars, camper vans, or even brightly coloured cars.
Of course, doing this isn’t always practical because there’s a reason people get rid of their summer whips as the weather gets colder!
2. Buy from London
There’s an upcoming change to the London ULEZ boundary. The zone expansion is due to come into effect from 25 October 2021.
So the owners of any cars that don’t meet the tighter emissions standards will have to pay a daily charge. How does this help your car hunt? Well, if you don’t live in London, you might be able to relieve someone of their old car which is soon to become a financial burden.
This is exactly what I did. I picked up an old BMW at a rock-bottom price because the previous owner simply couldn’t afford to keep it once the ULEZ boundary expands.
3. Be patient
My third and final tip involves following the old adage that ‘patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet’. If you’re not desperate to buy and you keep your eyes peeled, there are still good deals to be had.
This could mean waiting a few weeks for the right opportunity or waiting a few months until the new car market sorts out its issues. Giving yourself some time gives you a better chance of grabbing a second-hand bargain.
4. Save elsewhere
It may just be the case that you can’t pick up a decent car at a discount. But you can still save money on your motor elsewhere!
By making sure you have the cheapest car insurance deal around, you could offset any extra premium you pay for the car itself. You might also consider using a cashback credit card when purchasing essentials like fuel to help reduce your overall costs.
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