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What is a pre-registered car and can you save by buying one?

Published 18 December 2016 by

Buying a brand-new car can work out better value in the long-run – it comes with a warranty and it’s less likely to need repairs. But new cars are expensive and if you’re on a tight budget, you might not be able to afford to spend that much on a vehicle.

Instead, why not consider a pre-registered car? These are cars that dealerships have registered, meaning they’re not technically ‘new’ anymore. This means you could get one for a big discount. Let’s take a look at what pre-registered cars are and whether it’s worth buying one.

Not sure if you should buy new or pre-owned? Find out the benefits of buying a new or a second-hand car.

Pre-registered car – what does it mean?

As we explained, a pre-registered car is one that a dealership ‘self-registers’. Dealerships sometimes register cars with the DVLA to hit their sales targets. They do this so that they don’t miss out on valuable bonuses from the car manufacturers. If a dealer registers a car with the DVLA, it counts as sold.

This means the dealership effectively sells the car to itself. It also means it’s now technically a second-hand car, so it won’t sell at full price anymore. And it’s not just a handful of car dealers doing this – recent stats show that up to a fifth of new cars in the UK are pre-registered. The best time to find one of these cars is in March or September, when the DVLA releases the new number plates.

How could you save money?

After holding them for 90 days, dealers will typically sell pre-registered cars at a heavily discounted price compared to brand-new vehicles. Even though they’ve never actually had an owner drive them, this could mean you could get a great deal on a pre-registered car.

They’ll have very low mileages – perhaps just driving from one garage to another – and the majority will still have most of their warranty remaining. That’s why if you want the benefits of having a new car but you don’t want to spend too much, a pre-registered car might be a good alternative.

What to look out for

If you’re considering a pre-registered car instead of a brand-new model, there are a few things you’ll need to think about. As you’ll officially be the car’s second owner, this can mean you’ll lose out if you want to sell it on soon. So if you’re planning to upgrade again after a year or so, going down the pre-registered car route might not be for you. But if you’re looking for a vehicle that you can keep for a long period of time, you don’t need to worry about this as much.

And if you’re looking to modify your car, it probably won’t make sense to go pre-registered. This is because pre-registered cars will already have any extras installed. So if you want to save money by getting a pre-registered car, you’ll have to take it as it comes.

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