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Jamie Gibbs

Buying a pre-registered car


The secret to grabbing a bargain on nearly new cars, without breaking a sweat.


The main reason most drivers avoid buying new cars is the high price tag and quick rates of depreciation.

It’s understandable since some models can lose up to 35% in the first 12 months alone. So, for some it’s a no brainer to go down the used-car route.

However, there’s another way to save money on a nearly-new set of wheels – get your hands on a pre-registered car.

So, what are pre-registered cars?

Pre-registered cars are essentially new cars, but self-registered by dealerships. Car manufacturers measure success by the number of sales, and if a car has been registered with the DVLA it is considered sold.

The reason why dealers would buy these new cars is to hit their sales targets. They get bonuses on selling a specific number of cars over a set time period, rather than for each individual motor.

If the deadline is fast approaching and they realise they can’t sell enough cars on time, dealers will sell to themselves. This gives dealerships time to sell these cars without worrying about hitting their targets.


Even though pre-registered cars may have very low mileage on the clock, being just several weeks old, they are officially classed as ‘secondhand’. So, dealers are technically the first owner on the registration document.

Most manufactures don’t really care if the car has been bought by a real person, or has been paid for by the dealer.

Pre-registering new cars, and selling them on to customers at a lower price, doesn’t mean dealers are making a loss. Manufacturers’ bonuses usually make up for the difference and can sometimes outweigh the discount buyers get.

When is the best time to buy a pre-registered car?

You’ll have most luck in March and September, as that’s when new number plates come in. These are the two biggest months for dealerships, with a lot of stock ready to be shifted.

These are usually the months with the highest sales targets as well. So, that’s when you’re most likely to find cheap pre-registered cars.

Most dealerships also have monthly and quarterly targets to hit. So, keep that in mind next time you plan a visit to your local dealership.

When at the forecourt, always keep your eyes open for cars marked as ‘new’, but already have a number plate and are heavily discounted - chances are these have been pre-registered.


But are there any drawbacks?

The main downside of buying a pre-registered car is, even though it’s practically new, it’s regarded as used. It’s because technically, you’re the second owner. So, when you come to sell it on, it will have a lower re-sale value.

Another thing to be mindful of is the manufacturers’ warranty. The clock starts ticking the day a car is first registered. So, if a car has spent a few months on the forecourt, it will come with a shorter warranty when bought.

If you’re looking to customise the car you want to buy, a pre-registered vehicle won’t be for you. They often come already fitted with optional extras and you won’t be able to pick and customise the spec.


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