Buying a car in the UK – is it worth it?

Image result for cars in the UK

There’s no doubt that the significant fall in the value of sterling since the Brexit vote in June 2016 has made it much more attractive for Irish secondhand car buyers to travel to the United Kingdom to purchase a car.

The euro has gained nearly 15% against the pound since then, going from 76.5p just prior to Brexit to around 87.6p this week.

The single currency reached an eight-year high of 92.6p last summer.

This currency shift has already had a huge impact on the Irish used car market.

Figures earlier this week from the Central Statistics office showed secondhand car imports into Ireland jumped by nearly 20% in April when compared with the same month last year.

8,671 used cars were imported into the country during the month, a rise of about 1,400 on the same month in 2017.

Virtually all of these imports are coming from the UK.

Also, for the first four months of this year, the number of used cars being brought into Ireland has risen by 10.8% to 33,377.

So, a lot of car buyers obviously think there is money to be saved in leaving the jurisdiction to buy their next car, but how much?

How much can a UK visit save you?

That’s the big question, and the answer is that it really depends how much you’re spending and where you go to buy your car.

Obviously, the more you spend, the higher the potential saving to be made.

But other factors should be considered, such as whether you decide to travel to Northern Ireland or Great Britain.

Although used car prices in the North are very competitive when compared with the Republic, there are even lower prices available in Britain, as there is a larger supply and wider range of vehicles there.

However, for a potential buyer coming from the Republic, it is much easier – and less time-consuming – to drive to Northern Ireland to buy a car than it is to book a ferry and travel to Britain, and potentially spend more money on things such as accommodation, food, and other travel expenses.

Another consideration is Vehicle Registration Tax, or VRT, which must be paid on any car imported into the country.

The rate of VRT payable varies depending on the age of a car, its specifications, and its value

The Revenue has a handy VRT calculator on its website, which can help you determine the likely VRT that will be due on a car you’re seeking to buy.

But be warned, this calculator is by no means a definitive guide and could vary from the final amount you pay Revenue.

We’ve used dealer asking prices on similar cars in both Ireland and the UK, and the Revenue’s VRT calculator, to compile examples of potential savings that are available on buying a car abroad.

In addition, we have chosen conservative prices so as not to overstate the difference in price, but – if you do your research – the savings on the below examples could be even higher.

Note, the final cost of cars in our examples do not factor in travel expenses – fuel, ferry, accommodation, etc.

Our examples focus on the top-selling new cars in Ireland from April of this year. They are the Nissan Qashqai, Hyundai Tucson, Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus, and the Skoda Octavia.

In each case we have researched a number of both euro and sterling advertisements to ascertain a representative average price, which we think the chosen example accurately reflects. 

The UK car ads are all taken from Northern Ireland-based dealers.