Used car tourism: Second-hand car buyers travel for cheaper prices

Used car tourism

Car dealers visit auctions all over the country to get the best price. Now private buyers are travelling too (Picture © BCA)

Used car tourism is on the rise with car buyers being urged to travel to take advantage of the regional variation in car prices. Popular used cars can be more than £1000 cheaper depending on where you buy them across Britain.

Used car valuation service CAP HPI has revealed that it found a three-year old Audi A1 selling for £1600 less in Nottingham compared to a similar model in the south east of the country. The result has seen an increase in drivers travelling from one part of the country to another to take advantage of cheaper used car prices elsewhere, according to one expert.

Does used car tourism really exist?

It certainly does. Philip Nothard said: “In the car industry there have long been stories of dealers going up to Scotland to buy cars at auction, then shipping them down south to sell for a handy profit.” Nowadays, it’s just as likely to be regular car buyers who move around the country to take advantage of cheaper prices. “People do their research and everything else online then they’re happy to travel 200-300 miles for the right car,” Nothard revealed.

How much can you save yourself?

By scanning its database of 700,000 used cars for sale, CAP HPI found huge differences in price across the country. For example, three-year old versions of the popular Nissan Qashqai were selling for an average £10,136 in Northern Ireland, compared to £12,825 in the south east of England. Meanwhile, a Ford Mondeo in Wales will be £2228 less than one in the south east. Even though the Welsh car had done 55,000 miles compared to the southern version’s 35,000, that’s still quite a saving. “The size of some of the price variations shows that it pays to do your homework before making a purchase,” said Nothard.

Why do used car prices vary across the country?

As with property, location, location, location is everything in the used car market. “There are numerous factors that mean certain vehicles are cheaper in some parts of the country than others,” said Philip Nothard from CAP HPI. Generally speaking Greater London and the south east of England, where the population is higher and there are greater numbers of more affluent people, tend to have higher used car prices. But that isn’t always the case.

Are there any trends?

Sadly, life isn’t that simple. Nothard said: “Many factors affect the pricing of a used car from the numbers available in the market to demand in the local area. Where demand outstrips supply, we see price increases.” For example, the most expensive three-year old Ford Mondeo was in Northern Ireland. But that was where the cheapest Focus and Fiesta – also from Ford ‑ were to be found. Unsurprisingly, the south east was the most expensive area for half of the eight-car sample.

Read our tips on how to haggle for a used car

 

What we learnt from the report

Most expensive average prices (for three-year old 13-reg cars)

Ford Fiesta – East of England

BMW 3 Series – North east

Nissan Qashqai – South east

Ford Mondeo – Northern Ireland

Audi A1 – South east

Vauxhall Corsa – South east

Ford Focus – South east

Fiat 500 – North east

Cheapest average prices (for three-year old 13-reg cars)

Ford Fiesta – Northern Ireland

BMW 3 Series ‑ Wales

Nissan Qashqai – Northern Ireland

Ford Mondeo – North east

Audi A1 – East Midlands

Vauxhall Corsa ‑ Scotland

Ford Focus ‑ Northern Ireland

Fiat 500 ‑ Scotland

Biggest price differences

Ford Mondeo 44% (£3971)

BMW 3 Series 33% (£4698)

Nissan Qashqai 26% (£2689)

Smallest price differences

Ford Focus 11% £971

Audi A1 14% £1601

Ford Fiesta 15% £1116

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