Cost of living crisis driving more buyers to choose used cars

Our latest survey of What Car? readers reveals that 37% have decided to delay their purchase, with 20% having switched from a new to a used car because of rising costs...

Looking at cars on forecourt

The cost of living crisis is causing people to delay car purchases, reduce their budgets and consider different makes and models to the ones they originally planned to buy, What Car?’s latest research has found.

The survey of 1232 people who said they were in the market for a car found that 36.6% had decided to delay their purchases due to the cost of living crisis. Of those, 48.5% had pushed them back more than three months, and 24.1% were delaying a vehicle purchase until 2023.

The research also found that 39.7% of buyers had changed the make or model of car they were considering because of the cost of living crisis. They included 71.7% who were considering a different car brand altogether, and 12.8% who were looking at a different model from the same manufacturer.


The crisis is also affecting budgets, with 35.1% of buyers telling What Car? they were reducing the amount they will spend on their next car. When asked how much they will cut their spending, 25.4% of buyers estimated 10-15%, 23.6% looked to cut their spending by 5-10%, and 23.0% said 20% or more.

Of the buyers surveyed, 38.5% said they were looking to buy a new car, while 34.0% were in the market for a used model. The rest were still undecided about whether to buy new or used. Of those buying a used car, 20.6% told What Car? they were initially in the market for a new model, but the cost of living crisis had made them consider a used model instead.

Used cars on forecourt

What Car? also surveyed 401 people who had recently bought a car. Around a fifth (20.5%) said the cost of living crisis had affected their decision. Of those impacted, 61.3% said they had bought a different make and model to the one they initially wanted. More than half (59.1%) of car owners surveyed said they had bought a new car, with the rest buying a used model. Of those who had bought a used car, 13.6% said they had initially intended to buy a new car, but had ended up in the used market to save money.

Rising inflation is having serious consequences for the automotive sector. As the What Car? research shows, lots of buyers are revising their budgets, pushing back their vehicle purchases and considering different makes and models to offset the rising costs of living.

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