When is the best time to buy a used car?

Is now the best time to buy a used car in the UK? According to the latest data it is a better time than can be expected for the foreseeable future.

BCA, used car experts, believe used car values have actually been quite stable for 18 months now, and while this is expected to continue, the quality of used cars could be in decline.

This is because slow sales of new cars mean there are less used cars on the market, and those that are available are older than previous years.

BCA quotes the average age of a used car in the UK as an example; for the first time since 2008 it has risen to over 61 months. As we know, an older car is more likely to need work done and is generally less reliable than a newer model.

Used cars in 2011 also feature a higher mileage than before, with a high point of 59,000 miles being reached earlier this year.

According to BCA: "There appears to be a general move towards cars being older and higher mileage when they are sold in the wholesale arena. This would suggest whoever owns and operates a car – motorist, commercial organisation, leasing company – they are keeping it and using it for a longer period before it is sold."

This means buyers should think about buying a used car now, because in six months time these figures could become even higher – in fact this is a trend expected to continue for up to three years.

Luckily, there is a plus point for used car buyers. Average used car values fell in April and June in 2011 because of good weather and bank holidays stalling demand.

According to BCA, average car prices are now at their lowest since the start of 2009, ensuring there are plenty of bargains out there for the savvy buyer.