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Used cars now more popular than ever

The market is not what it seems. The advertising blurb over the last two years has led many of us to perceive the used car market as a declining one. Four years ago, new car buyers in the UK were at war with the car manufacturers over high prices compared to the rest of Europe. Although many still believe we are paying too much, the heat has simmered down and manufacturers are issuing price increases less frequently than every three months. In fairness, most did reduce their prices and some have since offered cash back and various other on-going buy-new incentives.

So in more recent years people have been buying new cars and in record numbers too – hence the perception of fewer takers for used cars any more. However, despite the slowdown of new model price increases, most used car buyers think of price as the big issue – you don't want to be the victims of eye watering depreciation – and this fear is now a major factor when choosing a model. Buyers demand better value for money and a used car offers this in abundance if bought right.

The reality is that more of us have bought a used car over the last two years than ever – buying used is still king for many reasons. We all like to think we have bagged a bargain by not paying top price for the car or the many options that new buyers take a monetary bashing on.

Many buyers like to make their own judgements when shopping around, based on past experience with a particular make or model.

This increased demand will continue to get even stronger for the foreseeable future, and if the general economy does falter, it will put even more pressure on stocks of the most popular three-year-old examples.

Trade-in shortage There is normally little activity in the used car market at this time. Switched-on dealers and traders have mostly stocked up by now on most of the available bargains that are around in anticipation of the usual late January upturn – weather depending, of course.

September '03 new car sales got off to a slow start but picked up a little in October, but dealers have been disappointed with the quality of part-exchange vehicles, many of which have fallen below the levels set by the many different manufacturer used car programmes and consequently have had to be traded on. This has worsened an already dire situation in terms of the shortage of good three-year-old stock for many dealers.

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