Used cars always used to be cheaper the farther north you went, but now you need to head to London to get the biggest bargains.
According to conventional wisdom, you need to head north if you want to get something cheap. Houses are generally cheaper the farther up the country you go, as are groceries, and the general consensus has always been that used cars are cheaper, too.
However, our research shows that this may no longer be the case. In fact, as soon as you leave the south youre probably looking at paying a higher price for the same model.
To find out just how big the regional price differences can be, we went shopping for 86 popular used models, researching prices for three-year-old cars at both franchised dealers and independent garages. After researching more than 14,000 vehicles, we were able to work out the average price of each model in each city, and thats where the surprises began.
Cheaper in the south
Of the 86 models we hunted for, a surprising 58% were cheaper in the south. Taking all of the cars in our survey into account, youd save an average of 285 by opting to buy a car in London instead of Manchester, and save 81 if you bought in London instead of Glasgow. Cars in Scotland were the second-cheapest in our survey, with 26% of the best prices, while Manchester finished a distant third with only 16% of the lowest prices. While most cars were cheaper in London, in some cases the actual price difference was very small some cars were less than 1 cheaper. However, two makes were consistently significantly cheaper in London: if you want an Audi or a BMW, youd do well to head for the Big Smoke.
The great divide
The biggest cash saving we found was on an 07-plate Audi A4 Cabriolet 2.0 TDI. In London youd pay an average of 14,931, but in Glasgow youd have to shell out 17,560 thats 18% more. That means it would be cheaper to fly to London, buy an A4 and drive it home.
Other cars we found with large price differences included the Ford Mondeo. Choose an 07-plate 2.0i Zetec 5dr and you could pay 9135 in Manchester, compared with just 7221 in London: thats 26% more. Youre far less likely to be stung by geographical discrepancies if youre buying a Ford Focus, though, because there was only a 115 difference between the best and worst prices.
What Car? says
Cars may be cheaper in the south (thanks to the higher number of vehicles on offer and greater competition for sales), but before you compare prices, make sure you decide how far and at what expense youre prepared to travel for a bargain. If youre determined, you could save yourself thousands of pounds.
Head south to save cash
Can you save cash by heading south? Conventional wisdom says the further north you go, the less you pay, but not any more.
Click the cars on the sign to see how much you could save by heading for London and beyond.
How much for a Golf?
Click on the image (below) for a larger view - to find out how much it would cost to buy a used VW Golf around the UK.