Drivers vastly over-estimating used car values

Almost three quarters of UK motorists are unable to accurately gauge a used car’s value, according to a recent study.

The survey of 2,000 car buyers, commissioned by CarGurus, asked participants to guess the value of the five most sought-after used vehicles in their respective classes. It found that 71% incorrectly identified the current market value of each vehicle, despite 58% of respondents claiming they were confident in assessing what a car is worth.

The vehicles were a Ford Fiesta, Nissan Qashqai, Range Rover Sport, BMW 320d M Sport, and Nissan Leaf.

Participants consistently over-estimated the value of the cars, with 38% of respondents over-valued the BMW 3 Series by at least £4,000, while 10% of participants over-valued the Ford Fiesta by at least 25%.

There was also a significant difference when it came to confidence levels of men and women. Almost three quarters of men (72%) were confident in valuing what a car is worth compared with 46% of women. Yet the gap in actual knowledge was significantly smaller, with men choosing the right answer 28.4% of the time on average, compared with 26.8% for women.

Chris Knapman, editor at CarGurus UK, said: “The UK’s used car market has rebounded strongly following the Covid-19 lockdowns, driven by a combination of pent-up demand, an increased desire for personal mobility, and a global semiconductor shortage that is stifling new car production and therefore driving people to search for used models instead.

“This increased demand means that, compared with a year ago, the average days on market for cars listed on CarGurus has fallen by 18% while prices over the same period are up by 29%.

“With used cars selling faster and for more money, it can be even more difficult for shoppers to accurately value models without the help of third-party tools.”