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Used Cars Are Getting Older

A surprise finding from the UK’s biggest vehicle remarketing company is that the average age of used cars on UK roads has risen by 6 months from 6.93 years in 2008 to 7.44 years today.

British Car Auctions tells us that motorists are being forced to keep their cars longer and buy older used cars as recessionary pressures continue to bite.

Steve Moody, editor of Fleet World, tells us that company cars are also getting older. Apparently, less than a fifth of fleet cars sold by rival auction group Manheim fall into the three-year, 60,000-mile bracket that the industry uses as a benchmark. Instead the majority of ex-fleet cars are now four to four and a half years old, with 80,000 miles.

Ford Mon II C 1999 Side 700

BCA tells us that the volume of 6-8 year old vehicles sold in 2011 grew by 7.4% and there are now in excess of 7 million cars in this age bracket on UK roads. Even more surprising, are now more than 13 million cars on UK roads that are over 9 years old.

Tim Naylor, Editor of the BCA Used Car Market Report believes: "A slowdown in the new car market from 2008 onwards has certainly had an impact on the availability of good quality used cars for motorists to buy. And (confirming Manheim’s experience) crucially, company fleets have been holding onto their cars for longer and changing them less frequently and this has affected the supply of cars aged up to five years old. As a result motor dealers are buying older vehicles for their forecourts."

"The squeeze on household spending means motorists are looking at different ways of managing their travel costs.  Some are deciding to choose slightly older, cheaper cars when they change their vehicle.   Others are looking for more economical cars that deliver a better MPG as they try to combat rising fuel costs. We have also seen a decline in the number of multi-car households which suggests families are having to economise with their personal transport needs."

 Ren Clio I 97P 3dr Side 700


  • 6-8 year old used car volumes grew by 7.4%/124,000 to 1.79 million units in 2011, representing 26.8% of the used car market 

  • Sales of 9 year old plus cars grew for the second year running, rising by 7.5% to 2.53 million and 37.8% of the used car market

  • Used car volumes rose to 6.7 million last year from 6.6. million in 2010 

  • As a result of more cars being sold, the overall value of the used car market edged to a new high of £35.7 billion, although average used car selling prices remained flat at £5,236.

  • Private to private used car sales increased by 7% year on year, with sales of 6-8 year old vehicles increasing the most at 15.9%

  • There is a marked drop in the number of car owners who believe they will ‘certainly' or ‘quite likely' buy a used car in next 12 months - down 3% in 2012 to 11%

  • Affordability tops motorists' priorities when deciding which car to buy. Price is key at 41%, followed by low mileage at 31% low mileage and make and model at 30%

  • 9 out of 10 motorists intend to replace their car with a different type of vehicle next time. Top of the shopping list is a car with better fuel consumption followed by lower road tax, a smaller car, best purchase price and lower CO2

  • Owners satisfaction with their used car rose two points to 95% in 2012

Mits Carisma Fl Side 700

Highlighting the financial pressures of motoring, the latest research from BCA's Used Car Market Report also identifies a focus on cost when changing vehicle.  The research conducted by BMRB* exclusively for the Used Car Market Report reveals that 9 out of 10 motorists plan to choose a different type of vehicle next time they change.  Top of the shopping list is a car with better fuel consumption followed by lower road tax.

Price, of course, remains the top priority for used car buyers with 41% of motorists surveyed saying this is the ‘crunch factor' for them when deciding which car to buy. 

Low mileage comes second at 31%, followed by make and model at 30%.  However, there is a marked drop in the number of car owners who believe they will ‘certainly' or ‘quite likely' buy a used car in the next 12 months - down 3% in 2012 to just 11%.

But owning a car is still important for the majority of UK families.  "Similar to last year, seven out of ten families (72%) own at least one car - although this is 5% fewer than two years ago", concluded Tim Naylor. 

"Hatchbacks account for nearly half of all used cars purchased, at 47%.  And choosing a car that will be as flexible as possible probably accounts for the increase in the share of the used car market for MPVs, now representing 10% compared to 6% last year.

"Our research illustrates that clearly the effects of the second recession in four years, rising fuel and maintenance costs and high inflation, have seriously affected car owners' disposable incomes as well as their day to day motoring choices."

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Vaux Omega Fl Side 2 700



Bernard Fishtrousers    on 24 August 2012

Well that makes your assertion that cars are only designed to last seven years look a bit daft then doesn't it.

Gary Webb    on 2 September 2012

Indeed it does. My car is 13 and still runs brilliantly. Passed the last MOT with no advisories. The bodywork is better than most five year old cars. Honest John has an irrational fear and loathing of anything over about five years.

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