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22nd March 2023

Is now a good time to buy a car?

This blog examines whether it’s better to buy a new or used car and analyses events that have impacted the market in 2023.

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Used car sales in the UK fell by 8.5% in 2022, with 6,890,777 second-hand vehicles changing hands, despite a previous few years of growth because of the chip shortage.

Meanwhile, sales of new cars in 2022 slumped to the lowest rate in three decades. So does that mean now is a good time to buy a car? And what time of year is best to make your purchase? Find out here.

What factors are affecting the car market in 2023?

Analysts predict the automotive sector will make a tentative recovery in 2023, despite prolonged disruption to supply chains.

The UK actually outperformed many of its European neighbours, achieving 1,614,063 vehicle registrations during the previous 12 months, according to figures from The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

There has been a considerable change in the way buyers access vehicles, as well as the types of vehicles that are in demand. While passenger cars will always be needed, higher interest rates, cost of living increases and affordability will continue to impact the market during the course of the year. 

What does that mean for used car sales?

The chip crisis saw a massive increase in the prices of second-hand cars, which is fantastic if you’re selling, but not so good if you’re buying. There will probably be a continued preference for affordable used cars as new vehicles become out of reach for many despite the growing demand of two or three-year Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) agreements. 

Are car prices going down?

Car prices are not going down – far from it. Second-hand car prices are rising despite swifter new car delivery times and people putting off expensive purchases during the cost-of-living squeeze. High demand and low stock of used vehicles has seen the average price of a second-hand car increase by 2.3% compared to March last year. 

When is a good time to buy a used car?

Number plates in the UK change in March and September. This means that during these months in particular, new cars are extremely popular. During this time, new car buyers typically look to sell their current vehicle. 

Of course, used car buyers can take advantage of these opportunities by driving down the price of a vehicle as the owner may be looking for a quick sale to help finance their new vehicle. 

Historically, used car sales are at their height during the last three months of a calendar year, with the rollout of new number plates a big reason for this.  

When’s the best time to buy a new car?

Car dealers are incentivised to sell cars quickly. The biggest incentives 

come at the end of each quarter, though sales are tracked through the whole year. At the start of each quarter – i.e. in March, June, September and December – dealers won’t have as much pressure to meet their targets but if you approach a dealer before their deadline in the preceding months, you could find them desperate to sell you a car, and offering a good deal.

The end of the financial year in April is also a good time to go car hunting, as businesses are keen to make as much out of each year as they can. This means the spring is a great time to bag a bargain.

How do I get a good deal on a used car?

If you’re currently in the market for a used car, there are some great ways you can get affordable options on some terrific models at the moment. 

  • Buy out of season – If you can try and hold off until the new year when the demand for cars has died down you can freely search for cars at a more reasonable rate than the inflated prices you may be experiencing currently.
  • Get an insurance quote – Before you jump in and buy a car, you should always check with an insurer to see how much it will cost you for insurance. There’s no point buying a car if you can’t afford the subsequent insurance.
  • Look to London – Due to the new ULEZ zone that came into effect last month, the used car market is flooded with London residents looking to sell their car quickly due to the emission charges. 

What are the benefits of buying a used car? 

If you’re unable to wait for a new vehicle, the main benefit to buying a used car in 2023 is that you’ll receive it a lot sooner than a new vehicle. Another major benefit is, despite the incredible rise in values for used cars, they are still cheaper for the average car buyer than buying new.  And they don’t tend to depreciate as quickly as a new car.

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Sterling offers all types of car insurance with prices starting from £125 a year. Our very best prices are available over the phone, so call our UK call centre today on 0344 381 9990 or request a free callback.

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