74% of cars bought in the UK are second hand, and it’s the ‘nearly new’ sector of the used market that is most popular – due mainly to the fact that car finance is more readily available than ever before.

That was the main conclusion of a recent AA-Populus poll of 15,000 motorists.

• 29% of survey participants said they had bought a ‘nearly new’ car (under three years old)
• 26% bought a brand new car
• 25% bought a used car over five years old
• 20% bought a car in the three to five-year range.
• Just over a third of drivers (34%) said they had never bought a new car

Scottish and Northern Irish drivers were most likely to be driving a car bought new (30%), followed South-East (28%) and North-East England (27%). The lowest proportion of new car sales was in the East Midlands (23%).

“The growing popularity of car finance is changing the shape of the car market as a whole,” James Fairclough, the Chief Executive of AA Cars, said.

“Car finance was first conceived as a way to help people drive a new car they could not afford to buy outright, and in this respect it has been a huge success – enabling tens of thousands of motorists to spread the cost of a new car over time. But it has also provided a steady flow of ‘nearly new’ vehicles into the used car market. This surge in supply has improved the value and range available to used car buyers – and allowed them to snap up low-mileage, well-maintained vehicles at prices that would have been unthinkable until recently.

“As a result, motorists now have more choice than ever – both among the huge range of cars available on the second hand market, but also the various financing schemes open to them.”