Pre-registered cars? I can think of worse things…


YOU’D be forgiven for thinking it’s worse than Donald Trump and Katie Hopkins getting together and having children, or finding out someone in the Government’s got their initials wrong and put the boss of BHS in charge of the NHS.

But pre-registered cars – despite being described by at least one of my one of my colleagues as a sort of automotive incest, because it involves the car industry effectively selling cars to itself – aren’t quite the malevolent motors some of the newspapers have made them out to be over the past few days.

In layman’s terms they’re cars that dealerships buy from the manufacturers, often at a hefty discount, and then sold on to you and me later on. In effect it means the first owners of these cars are the showroom themselves, and while it’s a handy way of bumping up the sales figures the net result to you and me are what are effectively brand new cars with sizeable discounts slapped on. How’s that a bad thing?

What I’d be more worried about is a used car scam that’s hitting the radar of trading standards organisations in other parts of the country, and it’s something to definitely watch out for next time you’re looking for a bargain. It has the two key ingredients of anything involving a bit of trickery – something that seems a bit too good to be true and people who are gullible or greedy enough to take advantage of it.

Here’s how it works. You’re online scouring the ads for a secondhand gem and you spot a car that looks like a great deal that isn’t going to hang around – but in all the pictures the registration plate’s been blanked out. You ring the seller to ask for the number, he happily obliges, and when you check it out the car in question has a backstory that checks out.

On that basis you stump up the readies, but it turns out the car you’ve bought is rather less savoury than the one you’d been saving up for. It’s the same make and model, of course, but the registration number’s completely different. The moral of the story is never to buy a car – especially a suspiciously cheap one – without seeing it first.

Pre-registered cars aren’t terribly sporting when it comes to car showrooms competing to have the best sales figures, but they are at least an entirely legal way of saving a few quid on a car. The sort of thing the trading standards experts are warning about is fraud. I know which I’d rather have.