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UK revealed to be the most transparent country for people to buy a used car

  • UK has the most transparent used car market, according to new research
  • Vehicles here are less likely to be clocked or damaged than elsewhere in Europe and in US
  • Brits considering buying some of the oldest used cars in the world
  • Almost a fifth of cars that Brits looked into buying last year had been damaged

Time 12:34 pm, January 25, 2024

The UK is the best place to buy a used car even though almost a fifth of second-hand vehicles have a damage record.

That’s according to vehicle history checking service CarVertical, which said today that the UK’s second-hand car market was the best for transparency.

Its Market Transparency Index used millions of history check reports generated on its platform to compare the second-hand car market across Europe and the United States.

Germany, Switzerland and Denmark came second, third and fourth respectively in the 25-strong list, with Ukraine, Latvia and Lithuania languishing at the bottom as the riskiest countries in which to buy a second-hand car.

The USA was ranked eighth, with Slovakia’s position of 14th placing it as the last country to receive a positive score for transparency.

The report evaluates countries by how many vehicles checked on CarVertical are found to be clocked, damaged and imported, how much any repairs would cost and how many miles have been rolled back on the odometer.

The index also compares the average age of cars checked on the platform with the proportion that have been stolen.

The UK’s high score was attributed to its very low number of imports.

With British drivers sitting on the opposite side of the car versus much of Europe, just 2.2% of the cars that drivers considered buying last year were imported.

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Countries with a higher import rate also had a higher proportion of clocked and damaged cars.

Despite being the least risky place in Europe to buy a car, though, nearly a fifth (18.4%) of used vehicles UK drivers considered buying in 2023 had a damage record.

That may have been partly because of the age of the cars that drivers are buying, said CarVertical.

UK vehicles checked on its platform last year were 10½ years old on average — the sixth oldest in the study. Cars in Latvia were the oldest at 11 years, while the newest cars were eight years old and bought in Slovenia.

The average age of cars on Britain’s roads is now 9.3 years — the oldest since the data started being collected by the Department for Transport in 1994.

Poland had the highest proportion of damaged cars, with 65.8% of its vehicles checked on CarVertical having a damage record.

In total, 3% of UK cars checked on CarVertical last year were clocked – the third lowest out of the countries studied. Latvia had the highest proportion of clocked cars at 12.9%.

Matas Buzelis, head of communications at CarVertical, said: ‘Brits should be comforted by the fact that buying a car in the UK is much safer than in other parts of the world, thanks to its low import rates and stricter legislation.

‘This means that UK motorists are much less likely to drive away in a vehicle that has been damaged or clocked than elsewhere in Europe or the United States.’

But he added a note of caution, saying: ‘This doesn’t mean every car is worth spending money on, however, and a fifth of vehicles in the UK that Brits considered buying last year had a damage record, while 3% were clocked.

‘It is important to check the history of any car you are considering buying to ensure it does not have any skeletons in the closet which could cost you money in repairs.

‘Drivers buying from private sellers should also be cautious and take steps to protect themselves from fraud when buying a car.’

John Bowman's avatar

John has been with Car Dealer since 2013 after spending 25 years in the newspaper industry as a reporter then a sub-editor/assistant chief sub-editor on regional and national titles. John is chief sub-editor in the editorial department, working on Car Dealer, as well as handling social media.

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