What are pre-registered cars?

Pre-registered cars, or pre-reg cars, are vehicles that are like new. They’ve never been owned by a member of the public and they’ll likely have very few (if any) miles on the clock. However, pre-reg cars are owned by and registered to a dealership, broker, or leasing company.

Why do cars get pre-registered?

Basically, manufacturers – in order to increase their sales figures – incentivise dealers to pre-registered cars, providing them with a bonus. And dealer’s take on pre-reg cars in order to meet their own sales targets. It’s something of a win-win situation for both, allowing dealers to make more profit and giving manufacturers sales PR to use against the competition.

Is a pre-registered car a new car or a used car?

So, is a pre-reg car a new vehicle or is it used? That’s a good question and whilst a dealership may try to convince you it’s new or essentially new, pre-registered vehicles are actually classed as used. Sure, they may be in top condition and they’ll likely be low mileage cars too, however, pre-reg vehicles have been registered, with the dealership’s name listed as the first owner on the V5C document. And because the vehicle’s registered, the pre-reg car is now classed as used – even if it’s never been driven off the forecourt.

Are pre-registered cars a good deal?

Yes, they certainly can be. After all, pre-reg vehicles are in a like new condition, but being classed as used they have a cheaper starting price compared to the same model that’s brand new. However, as with most things when it comes to buying a used car, there are pros and cons you should always take into account.

Pre-registered cars pros

Pre-reg car deals come with a lot of pros to entice buyers. So, if you’re looking to buy a pre-registered car, you can expect the following:

  • A cheaper sale price compared to brand new models
  • A car that’s classed as used, but in a like new condition
  • Instant delivery, because pre-reg vehicles are sat on the forecourt ready to go
  • A vehicle that’s usually under 6 months old with very few miles on the clock – typically under 200 miles
  • A popular model, trim level, and engine – usually pre-registered cars tick all those boxes

Remember, there’s always room to haggle the starting price of a pre-reg car to get an even better deal. Use our top tips for negotiating car price to help you in your negotiations.

Pre-registered cars cons

Pre-reg cars for sale also have a few drawbacks that you should consider before buying. These include the following:

  • The car is classed as used
  • You’ll be the second owner on the V5C logbook, which will affect the resale value
  • You won’t be able to customise the car or change its specification or choose its colour
  • The manufacturer warranty will already be partly used as it starts the same day the car is registered, which with a pre-registered car will be to the dealer
  • A finance deal could also work out to be more costly than if you were buying new – be sure to research this point in advance – you can also use our car finance calculator as a starting point

Be sure to take insurance into account too. As a pre-reg vehicle is classed as used, you won’t be able to claim a new for new on your insurance policy in the event of a write-off.

Photo by Lorenzo Hamers on Unsplash

When do cars get pre-registered?

Cars tend to get pre-registered in the first and third quarters of the year, around the months of March and September when the new registration plates are launched. These two months are very busy for dealerships, with an increase in new car sales. Around this time, dealerships typically try to capitalise on the strong sales with incentives and – if they’re not quite hitting targets – with pre-reg cars.

When is the best time to buy a pre-registered car?

As you might’ve guessed from above, the best time to purchase a pre-reg car is around March and September. At the end of a month or a financial quarter (March, June, September, and December) can also be good times, as dealers may be tempted to pre-registered a vehicle to try to hit monthly and quarterly targets.

We have a complete guide on the best time to buy a car, which goes into depth on subject. And it covers both new vehicles and used ones too.

How to buy a pre-reg car?

Just like how to buy a used car, purchasing a pre-reg vehicle requires a bit of research. You’ll want to:

  • Look into the car type you’re after – whether that’s an Audi A1, a Hyundai Ioniq, or a Volvo XC60
  • Research online to see if there’s a new generation or new model about to be released – this can be a good time to find a pre-reg deal and it gives you additional info for haggling too
  • Be ready to shop around in March, September, June, and December, or at the end of a month
  • Be patient – the availability of pre-reg cars varies from month to month
  • Be sure to ask dealers if they have any pre-reg cars in stock

If you’d like a step-by-step guide on buying a used vehicle, take a look at our Buying a Used Car Checklist. It goes through the entire process from start to finish, in a clear and easy to read manner.

Best tips to buy a pre-registered car

Carrying on from how to buy a pre-reg vehicle, here’s some top tips when buying a pre-registered car. Again, you’ll want to take these into account:

  • As you won’t be able to choose features, it’s good practice to make a ‘must-have’ list of what you need and then make sure the vehicle meets your requirements
  • Check the car is in showroom condition and the mileage is low – if it’s above 200 miles it could be an ex-demo vehicle and should be priced accordingly (which will typically be cheaper than a pre-reg)
  • Don’t be afraid to be upfront and to email dealerships asking them to notify you when pre-registered vehicles are available
  • Establish how long the pre-reg car has been at the dealer as this affects how long is left on the warranty – you could use this information when haggling too
  • Finally… don’t forget to haggle to negotiate the car price – you could land an even better deal

How much cheaper should a pre-registered car be?

Typically, pre-registered cars for sale have around 5-15% discounted from their starting price compared to new. Sometimes that figure can be as high as 25% off the price, if the dealership is looking to free space on the forecourt. The reason this figure varies is because of a few factors, such as the popularity of the vehicle and how quickly the dealership needs to sell the car.

Sometimes, in the pre-registered car deals vs new car deals, new vehicles can actually come out on top as the better offer. Why? Well, that’s because manufacturers sometimes provide hefty deposit contributions towards the new car for those paying on finance. You should always research and compare the cost of a pre-reg car and a new one before you buy to see which is the better deal, especially if you’re planning to use car finance.

Just remember, with a new car you’ll have the Recommended Retail Price (RRP) and the On The Road Price (OTR). The OTR is the true cost of the new vehicle, including how much it’ll cost to legally drive it on the road, including the car’s registration and first year of tax. With a pre-reg car, many of these costs (such as the registration) will already have been paid for.

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

What is an ex-demo car?

An ex-demo car is similar to a pre-reg car in that it is in a nearly new condition and registered to the dealer. However, there’s a big difference between ex-demo and pre-reg vehicles. Ex-demo cars, or ex-demonstrators, are used as display models to showcase the vehicle to prospective buyers. They’re also used for test drives, which means an ex-demo car will be driven on the road and will have more miles on the clock compared to a pre-reg vehicle. It may have a few dents or scratches from said test drives too.

If you’re looking to buy a vehicle that’s nearly new, ex-demo cars can be a really good deal as well. Like pre-reg cars, they come with their own pros and cons, which you can read all about in our definitive guide on ex-demo cars.

What is a ‘nearly new’ car?

A nearly new car is a vehicle that is under 12-months old, with few miles on the clock, registered to an owner, and in a like-new condition. Pre-registration cars and ex-demonstrator vehicles are classed as nearly new. Sometimes a used car that ticks all of the above criteria will be classed as nearly new as well.

Basically, it’s a more enticing way of saying “used” that takes into consideration the fact that the car is closer to its new condition. Nevertheless, nearly new cars for sale are often good deals. You can make excellent savings and you get a car that is like new with low mileage.

Just remember, as with any used car, you should still perform a car history check and a vehicle inspection. These are informative ways to avoid car scams and to gather knowledge on the vehicle, which can be used to negotiate a better deal.

Pre-registered cars are like new, with low mileage. Never driven or owned by the public, they’re registered to a dealer in order to meet sales targets. Yet because they’re registered, pre-reg vehicles are subsequently classed as used, which means buyers can purchase a nearly new car at a discounted price.

Buy a used car that’s tailored to your needs with us at Motors.co.uk, using our Smart Search tool. It’s the easy way to find the right vehicle for your lifestyle.