What is a nearly-new car?

What is a nearly-new car? Everything you need to know before buying one

James Mills
Jul 2, 2019

The number of new cars sold across Britain is one of the best barometers of how the economy is fairing. As many households tighten their belts and rein in spending, often drivers weigh up buying a nearly-new car instead of ordering a more expensive, brand new model from the manufacturer.

It might appear to be a daunting decision. After all, when you buy a new car, you know you’re the first owner which means no one else could have mistreated it. Whereas with a nearly-new car, it will have had at least one owner and might have travelled several thousand miles.

What’s more, the warranty won’t be as long. Unless the dealer is offering to extend it, the cover began when the car’s first owner took delivery. But many drivers don’t mind because the saving over a brand new car is too good to resist.

So what are the benefits of buying a nearly-new car? And what are the downsides that drivers should be aware of before making up their mind? Read on to find out.

Nearly-new car deals

What is a nearly-new car?

A ‘nearly-new’ car is generally viewed by the motor trade as one that’s less than 12 months old and with no more than 5,000 miles recorded. It’s different to a pre-registered car because it has been put to use, whereas most pre-registered cars will have sat in stock, waiting to be bought.

They can be sold by dealers, brokers or leasing companies, as well as private individuals.

The history of nearly-new cars will vary, so it’s important to ask direct questions about any car’s past use. Some might have been driven by a member of staff at a dealership and could have doubled up as a demonstrator or courtesy car. Others could have been driven by staff working for the vehicle manufacturer’s UK division.

Others might be former hire or lease cars, and some are simply being sold by individuals who fancy a change – but make sure they aren’t selling it because they feel it’s a lemon.

What sort of discounts are available with nearly-new cars?

Savings vary dramatically, depending on the car, its age and how many miles it has covered. Discounts range from several hundred pounds to tens of thousands (perhaps saving as much as 30 per cent of its original price when new) on the most expensive machines.

Can you still haggle on the price of nearly-new cars?

Haggle to your heart’s content. Just because there’s already a substantial saving on the table doesn’t mean you shouldn’t push for a better deal.

To do this, try and find similar specification cars and play the vendors off against one another. Also, when it comes to taking out a finance product (see below), shop around to achieve a lower interest rate. For example, if you see a more competitive rate is available from a high street lender, use this to try having a car dealer lower their APR.

Is finance available with nearly-new cars?

The good news is that finance is widely available on nearly-new cars. The terms and conditions will vary according to the individual.

However, it’s important that consumers compare any offer with those of other dealers, high-street banks or building societies or other lenders that can be sifted through using a price comparison website.

Also, don’t forget to ask for a deposit contribution, and if you’re part-exchanging your old car for the nearly-new model, try and secure a better valuation for it.

Should I be concerned if a nearly-new car was a demonstrator?

Some drivers turn their noses up at cars that have been used as demonstrators or courtesy cars. However, there are attractions.

For example, demonstrators are dressed to impress. That means they tend to come in desirable trim levels, with a good number of option packs so that sales people are able to show prospective customers the potential benefits of adding such extras to any new car they order. You could pick up a ‘fully loaded’ car such as this at a knock-down price.

The condition of its bodywork and wheels and tyres will need to be checked, as will the car’s servicing history. If it is still to be serviced, ask the dealer to throw in the next service for free. After all, you weren’t the one who racked up the miles in the first place.

Do you get a warranty with a nearly-new car?

Drivers will benefit from the balance of any cover remaining on the original new car warranty put in place by the vehicle manufacturer. For example, if there’s a six-month old nearly-new car for sale that’s caught your eye, and it was first sold with a three-year warranty, there will be two and a half years of warranty that will be transferred to the next owner.


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