Get your plates on!


Get your plates on!

The new ‘16’ number plate was released yesterday (March 1st). But what does this mean for you?

Well, you might be tempted to treat yourself to a new personalised number plate featuring the number 16, or you might even decide now’s the time for a new car. And you’d be surprised to learn that the release of a new number plate can mean it’s a good time to go car shopping.

New, new, new

Nothing says ‘new car’ like the latest number plate for that year. But brand new vehicles can cost some serious money, so investing in one might be out of your budget right now.

The good news is that the release of a new plate can result in some good deals if you’re looking for a second-hand car. In the current number plate system, the two numbers identify the age of the car. Between March and August, the numbers are taken from that year – so, 16 for 2016 – and from September to February it’s the number of that year plus 50. For September 2016 that will be 66 (16 + 50).

Because the age of the car is so prominently displayed on its number plate, a vehicle that’s registered just one month before the release of a new plate can look far older. Because of this, some dealers may be offering deals on cars that are essentially brand new but look older than they are because of their number plate.

Second hand bargain

The same goes for used cars; a car that came out in February 2014 will look older than one that was registered in March 2014, despite there only being a few weeks separating them in age. So again, there may be a deal to be done with the dealer. And there may be more choice available too, as drivers who want to upgrade to a new car could wait until a new plate is released to trade in their old vehicle.

Best of all, because the ‘older car’ might only be a few weeks or months older than the more expensive ‘newer’ second-hand vehicles being sold, there’s probably not that great a difference in mileage, wear and tear.

Top tips for second-hand car shopping

Research* carried out for us recently revealed that some used car shoppers are playing a risky game when it comes to buying a vehicle. Of the nearly two-thirds of respondents to our survey who have bought a used car at some point, nearly a third didn’t conduct any checks before handing over their cash.

Getting checks done on a second-hand vehicle you’re thinking of purchasing may seem like a hassle that will hold up you getting in the car and driving it away, but if there is something wrong with the car or its history you’ll be glad you found out before parting with your money.

Paying for an AA/RAC vehicle inspection or for a mechanic to look over the car should highlight any mechanical faults. These problems may mean it’s a lot less roadworthy than the dealer claims. Meanwhile, a HPI check will provide you with the financial history of the car, revealing whether it’s been stolen, written off or there’s still finance owing on it that you’ve not been made aware of.

Finally, be sure to take advantage of the offer of a test drive. You might have made up your mind on the model, age and price of the vehicle, but there really is no test better than getting behind the wheel yourself.

For information on how to finance your second-hand car purchase, click here, and for our top tips on buying a second-hand car, click here.


* Red Dot questioned a nationally representative sample of 2,000 adults aged 18 and over between 6th January 2016 – 11th January 2016, of whom 637 were Scottish residents.