As well as the standard options of new and used cars, and the less common option of buying an ex-demonstrator (a vehicle used by the car dealer for test drives), there is another, and even less common, option of buying a dealership pre-registered car.
What is a Pre-Registered Car?
Pre-registered cars are not the same as ex-demonstrators, even though ex-demonstrators may never have actually been registered by the dealer, instead only having been driven on trade plates.
Why Would a Dealer Pre-Register a Car?
Should a new model of a car be released, or be set be released shortly, a dealership may want to get the old models off its books as new cars, so will pre-register them to transfer them to the used car department.
What Are The Advantages?
What Are the Disadvantages?
There are downsides to buying pre-registered vehicles. It is possible for these to make buying a pre-registered vehicle not worthwhile.
You Are Not the First Owner
This means that when you come to sell the car, you are selling it with two owners on the logbook, not one, even if the first owner did not use it. This is not always as big a disadvantage as it sounds. It mostly applies when selling privately, especially if the private seller has not heard of pre-registered cars. When part-exchanging or selling to a garage or dealership, they are usually aware of pre-registration (although that won't stop them using it as an excuse to lower the price) and their prices are usually more immobile and less influenced by minor deviations than private buyers.
Shorter Manufacturers Warranty
Shorter MOT Free Period
Other Offers Reduced
Should a new car come with additional benefits such as free car insurance or breakdown cover for a set period, these will also usually start the moment the car is registered, not the moment the car is purchased. As with the previous two, the date the car was registered is important.
You Don't Get As Much Choice
Pre-registered cars are limited as to what is available. You can't choose things such as colour, paint type or many optional factory added extras - although aftermarket extras can always be added. The only cars you can have are those the dealer has registered. You also lack the same range of choice in car brands; you are limited at any time to those dealers who currently have such cars in stock. Not every dealer pre-registers, especially for higher priced cars, and there is no guarantee at any particular time that a particular dealer - or even any dealer in your area - will actually have any for sale.
Which Should I Do?
Whether you go down the pre-registered route is a matter of personal preference. There are substantial savings, but each car needs to be looked at individually. Cars that have been pre-registered for many months are not as good a deal as ones that have only just been registered. If a car has been pre-registered for many months that also suggests a problem with the car itself; not with the individual car but with the make and/or model. In addition, there may not be any pre-registered cars available when you are looking to buy a car.