Let’s take a look at the most typical complaints and concerns when it comes to used car buying. Although this will probably not help you as such – at least it will help you feel understood.
Prices are inflated
Here’s the thing: Used cars are big business. Not only is the used car market far busier than the one for factory new vehicles. It also offers pretty amazing profit margins for experienced sellers.
Buy cheap – from part exchanges or at specialised car auctions – refurbish and clean, then sell on at a much higher price. That, in a nutshell, is what the market is based on. Clearly, a great concept for dealers. For you, on the other hand, it is anything but.
As a buyer, you’ll pay a hefty premium. As a seller, you won’t get a great price for your part exchange because dealers will do anything to keep their margin as high as possible.
Add to that the current problem of post-Covid supply issues and you’re left with an experience which, more often than not, is truly … disappointing to sax the least.
Your choice of cars is not ideal.
The used car market is big. In fact, it’s huge. So, surely, as long as you look long enough, you’ll find something that’s perfect for you, right?
Unfortunately, that’s not how things work.
It is not uncommon for potential buyers to leave a dealership utterly disappointed. Sometimes, there’s not even a single car that meets their needs.
A big part of the problem is that many dealerships are trying to move upmarket. Sure, you can also make money by selling a lot of very cheap cars in less than optimal condition. But to most, it is preferable to instead focus on pristine models which fetch far higher prices – i.e. sell less at higher prices.
Also, the strategy of keeping less cars on the lot and selling them quickly has its benefits.
For you as a consumer, however, the result is that you have less cars to choose from.
SUVs are dominating the market.
This can hardly come as a surprise. SUVs, after all, dominate the new car market in the first place. So it is only logical that they’ll eventually end up at your local used car dealer.
In principle, this is not a bad thing. SUVs are popular and used SUVs are considerably more affordable than their brand new counterparts. Which means that they come within reach of the average consumer as well.
The thing is that used SUVs are a lot more expensive on average than used hatchbacks and city cars. Their profit margins also tend to be particularly high. All of this means that they’re especially alluring propositions for resellers.
As a result, SUVs can tend to marginalise cheaper options such as hatchbacks. And that is bad news if your financial situation isn’t ideal to say the least.
SUVs may look nice and make for a pleasant ride. But they’re bad news for those of us who can only barely afford a used car.
Condition can be a vague term, admittedly. Then again, everyone knows what it should refer to: The lifetime that car still has in it, the chances of it breaking down very soon, and the state of its mechanics and interior elements at the time of purchase.
Condition is probably the most important factor determining the value of a car. So you’d expect sellers to take it into very serious consideration. Somehow, however, they very rarely get it right.
Many cars are in a slightly too bad state for their price. They’re just about okay, but no more than that. Which probably makes sense from the dealers’ point of view, as they can extract maximum margins from the sale. But for you as the future driver, it means you’re always left with a bad taste in your mouth. No sale is truly satisfying.
Sometimes, however, the condition can be too good in a way. If the dealership does such a n excellent job that the car is as good as new again, the price goes up accordingly. Which means that the entire point of buying used – saving money – is lost on the transaction.
Don’t get us wrong – you can still find cars in the right condition. It’s just that it’s become pretty hard.
In 2030, the unthinkable will become a reality. As of January 1st of that year, dealers are no longer allowed to sell new cars with combustion engines. EVs will become the norm, paving the way for a greener future.
Eight years is still a long way off. But it can’t hurt to be prepared. And so, many in the UK would love to get their hands on an EV ahead of time. Especially considering the fact that experiences from users are so positive that hardly anyone who’s ever driven electric vehicle would ever want to go back.
There are just two problems:
New EVs are exceedingly expensive.
Used EVs are hard to come by.
Obviously, this will change in the very near future. As EVs gradually become the dominant force on the market, more of them will enter the used car showrooms. That said, EVs are also extremely durable and reliable. Which means that this process will take some time.
It may not make the buying experience outright rubbish. But let’s certainly hope that you don’t have to wait until 2030 before making the transition.
There are many reports of dealers insulting customers or trying to trick them into a sale.
There are always two sides to a story and car buying is an emotional process – so little wonder that passions can flare up.
At the end of the day, most dealers have long become a lot more professional. Consumer protection means that buyers can try to get their money back if they feel they’ve been treated unfairly. And so, in general, the quality of cars and service has gone up.
That said, it still seems rare that dealers truly treat customers as partners.
Many buyers want and need assistance with arriving at the best possible decision for them. Sometimes that may mean buying a cheaper car than the one they originally had in mind. But sometimes, that may also mean buying a more expensive one, which has all the required features.
And so, the buying experience is often just not quite good enough.
Financing is still an issue.
In fact, this may well be the one thing that makes car buying most rubbish which has proven most resistant to improvements.
Which is a shame. For many in the UK, after all, we can not separate the question of which car to buy from the question of whether we can afford it.
Financing for used cars is not quite as varied as new car financing. Your options are limited. Still, dealers can play a big part in making things happen by offering you the right payment plan.
One popular approach is to keep the term of the loan short, interest rates moderate and monthly payments high. This way, interest payments remain fairly low. The problem is that this is often unaffordable for many potential buyers. And even if it is, it significantly increases the risk of a default.
Which is why we offer an alternative way of thinking: Why not set the monthly rates according to what you can afford on a long term basis? This way, you get to drive a great car without having to worry about entering insolvency all the time.