While owning a brand-new car is an experience to cherish, buying used car leave you with more money in your pocket. Choosing a pre-owned car means you won't suffer the initial period of depreciation the first owner will experience. This is the value a car loses as soon as it's driven away from the showroom.
Although Carbuyer is strongly focused on new cars, we certainly appreciate why buying used continues to be such a popular alternative. This has led us to consider which cars offer the best value for money on the used market – there are some that can save their second owner a huge amount of cash.
The rate at which a used car loses its value – its rate of depreciation – can vary enormously between models and it's not always easy to predict how a car will perform in this regard. There are some truly excellent cars out there that, for a variety of reasons, perform poorly on the used-car market and have to be priced low to attract a buyer. This is bad news for whoever buys such a car brand new, but excellent news for subsequent owners.
Depreciation tends to slow down once a car has reached three years of age – if you plot it on a graph, the initial steep curve gradually flattens out as the car becomes older. This means it's possible to buy a used car and experience considerably less loss of value than a new-car buyer is likely to endure. It means that buying used can be a very cost-effective method of car ownership, and you don’t always have to forgo the latest technology. Cars tend to be facelifted or upgraded about four years into their lives, so you might be able to get a used car with the same specification as a brand-new car.
High-spec models – those priced markedly higher than lower models in the range – are likely to depreciate faster than others and can offer spectacular value secondhand. And some cars that are so expensive that the first three years of depreciation takes tens of thousands of pounds from their value. However, the cars on our list of the 10 best used car buys were all sensibly priced when new and some are likely to hold on to their remaining value strongly – great news when the time comes to sell.