RAC Cars News


Calendar Of The Used Car Buyer

By raccars Published

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Here's how to take advantage of those seasonal variations in used car prices:


After a traditionally quiet Christmas, new car sales spike as buyers go for new year registered models, making plenty of part exchange stock available to used buyers.


The bad weather keeps buyers at home instead of haunting dealership forecourts, meaning sellers will be offering discounts to ensure some sales during a quiet month. Privately sold convertibles are at their cheapest right now.


There are plenty of part exchange bargains to be had as a result of new plates, particularly mass market models, such as Ford Mondeos and Vauxhall Insignias.


The used car market suddenly awakens and the sun somehow miraculously encourages buyers to open their wallets. Prices spike, particularly for summer vehicles such as convertibles, so now may not be the time to invest.


After the end of the financial year in April, lots of relatively young vehicles appear on the used market, which makes car auction houses a good place to buy.


As convertible prices rise, 4x4s get cheaper. American and Japanese models don't carry the prestige of the European models so can be a bargain, while high mileage examples can be well discounted.


It's a healthy time of year for the used car market, so bargain hunters should be patient and spend July getting some sun rather than buying while prices are high.


As a huge section of the population goes on holiday, the used car sector goes a little quiet, leaving sellers keen to rustle up a little trade by offering deals to the lonely buyers who have been sensible enough to sit out the July rush. There are bargains galore in August.


Once again, supply goes up thanks to the autumn plate change, but while there are deals to be had, prices won't reach rock bottom.


The best month to buy classic cars, as owners get bored after a summer drawing admiring glances. As the cold draws in, convertible owners could also be seeing the novelty start to wear off.


As everyone's attention starts turning towards preparations for Christmas, the used car market is fairly quiet. There may be a few hidden gems in the form of ex-fleet cars left at auction, while there are some good private sales by those trying to raise cash for Christmas.


It's a busy month in the turkey sector but no-one is worrying about buying or selling cars right now, making it the ideal time to snap up a bargain.

Used Car Buying Guide

If you've been planning to buy a used car, you probably have a budget set and a pretty good idea what you are looking for in terms of age and model. However, what finer details should you be aware of?

Specifications and colours

White seems to be the colour of the moment for new car buyers, although you may find the manufacturers using terms such as snow, frost, toothpaste or milk... However they are all versions of white, which seems to have taken over from silver as the UK car buying public's favourite shade.

This still leaves silver as the most popular shade for used car buyers, although black is also holding strong. In terms of resale value, bland metallics and radical citrus shades are less desirable and of course, cheaper as a result.

Used car specification is more important than ever: buyers want tech and gadgets. Comfort and convenience features, such as heated seats, climate control and sophisticated in car entertainment systems, command far higher prices than very basic models.


Diesels are under pressure from EU emissions targets and Boris Johnson, so it's a brave buyer who'll go for an oil burner this year. The end is not yet nigh but savvy buyers will be looking at efficient new petrol models, boosted by cheaper petrol prices. However, this could mean some good diesel bargains for those who think this is jumping the gun and are prepared to risk the consequences.

If your lifestyle means that extra city congestion charges and higher priced on road resident parking don't affect you, then 2015 is the year to take advantage of the market' nervousness about the future of diesel cars.


Despite the government's desperate attempts to encourage uptake and a steady rise in sales of new electric cars, buyers are still hesitant to take that leap.

The EV market is slowly opening up, prompted by businesses which use clever accounting to offset the capital expense, but it remains a niche sector. Expect the likes of the BMW i3 to help the image of the EV market this year. Don't expect a revolution but, as range extender versions become available, changes in public opinion will be noticeable. If you're buying a used EV, scan the market thoroughly as early hybrid values harden this year. If you know your stuff and are good at haggling, you could get a bargain, as dealers don't know quite what to do with used electric cars at this stage.

Save Money Buying A Used Car

Everyone knows the basic rules of buying used - check the history, compare the market, test drive etc. However, something else to bear in mind is the used car market's tendency to shift according to seasonal variations.

There are two traditional spikes in the used car market when registration plates change in March and September. With car buyers offering their existing vehicles in part exchange for new models, there is a flood of fresh used car stock.

Apart from that, distinct seasonal patterns see convertibles and 4x4s undergo noticeable price rises and dips, as car buyers follow the weather. If you are the type who plans ahead, you can use these patterns to get the best deal at any time. As new car sales continue to rise, 2015 also looks good for used car buyers. The following look like good value this year.


An exception to the seasonal rule is seen with supercars. There is a small but dedicated group of buyers year round, which ensures turnover tends to be quick - as is the depreciation. However, 2015 would be a great time to invest in something like an Aston Martin Vanquish. A new model is freeing up older units for the used market. Values have been dropping for some time but are likely to start nosing up again, so start looking now.

Sports cars

The arrival of the new Mazda MX-5 at the end of the year means now is a good time to get hold of a third generation model. Prices will be fluctuating over the course of a year but are trending down. The same applies to the Audi TT, as owners offload their old models, in anticipation of a younger, fresher TT.


Traditionally in high demand in preparation for winter weather, the arrival of much awaited new models sees outgoing versions subject to attractive discounts. Such is the case with the Volvo XC90 or Jeep - as warranties expire, prices drop accordingly, so something around five years old should be a bargain. The Mercedes-Benz M-Class also offers good value used.


The popularity of SUVs has made MPVs rather unfashionable - which is great news for bargain hunters. Stylish they're not, but they are seriously practical. The Ford Galaxy has always been a good performer in terms of driving dynamics, usability and above all value for money. The Vauxhall Zafira is a step down in quality but is an absolute bargain as a result.

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