What is a pre-registered car?

January 19, 2022 by

A pre-registered car is one that has never been owned by a customer but instead registered to a dealership or leasing company.

Though pre-registered cars often have little more than delivery mileage, they’re technically still used cars.

Should you consider a pre-registered car? This guide is here to help you decide.

Why are some cars pre-registered?

Dealerships will be set sales targets by the manufacturers they’re franchised with. If they meet these targets, they may earn bonuses.

Manufacturers aren’t too fussed about how the cars are sold, just that they’re sold. As a result, dealers will often purchase the cars from a manufacturer themselves in order to meet these targets.

How does this affect you? Well, the cost of a dealership having to ‘buy’ and register these cars will be outweighed by the bonus payments they receive. This allows them to take an immediate hit on depreciation for pre-registered cars — meaning they’ll often cost less than a comparable new car when they’re sold on to buyers.

What are the benefits of buying a pre-registered car?

  • They’re significantly cheaper

Even though a pre-registered car will typically have no more than delivery mileage, they’re still used cars. This means the immediate depreciation is taken on by the dealer, passing on a significant cost saving to you.

  • You’re still getting a new car

Though technically you are the second owner, a pre-registered car is very similar to a factory-fresh, first-owner car. So if you’re happy with not being the first registered owner, you’re still the first public buyer.

  • They’re available immediately

Pre-registered cars will either be sat on a dealership forecourt or in storage waiting to go, meaning you can get your brand new car pretty much as soon as you sign the dotted line.

What are the downsides of buying a pre-registered car?

  • Your warranty will be shorter

Though a manufacturer’s standard warranty will still apply to your pre-registered car, that will be from the date it’s registered. As a result, you’ll only be able to take advantage of the remainder of the warranty — so it’s worth checking the date it was registered.

However, you could take out an extended car warranty which covers the cost of diagnosis, labour, and parts should something go wrong with your car beyond the remaining manufacturer warranty period. carwow has partnered with MotorEasy who provide extended car warranty cover. Simply enter your details to get an instant quote and save 11% on the cost.

  • You’re not the first registered owner, meaning potential further depreciation

Though in essence, you’re the first real owner of the car, you’ll be registered as the second owner. This could result in further depreciation when the time comes to sell your car.

  • You can’t spec the car

If you’re ordering a brand-new car, you’ll have full freedom over how you spec it. That’s not the case with a pre-registered car of course, so it may be hard to find a model specified exactly the way you want.

How much do pre-registered cars cost?

Pre-registered cars usually come with a significant cost saving over a brand-new one.

Below are some examples of pre-registered cars available through carwow compared with RRP. These are correct at the time of writing so may have changed, but should give you a rough idea of the kind of savings you can expect.

New cars vs used cars

Toyota Corolla Excell
RRP: from £28,855
carwow pre-reg price: £27,990

Mazda MX-5 Sport
RRP: from £27,055
carwow pre-reg price: £26,500

SEAT Ateca FR Sport
RRP: from £31,390
carwow pre-reg price: £29,480

Should you buy a pre-registered car?

A pre-registered car is worth considering if you’d like a new car with some extra savings.

However, you should consider the potential warranty implications too. You’re also at the mercy of stock available, so it might be difficult to find the exact car you’re looking for – especially if you fancy some specific optional extras.

FAQs: Pre-registered cars

Is a pre-reg car the same as an ex-demo car?

Ex-demo cars are technically pre-registered cars but are usually used for customer test drives or to demonstrate features. As a result, they will usually have a higher mileage — though this is usually no more than a couple of thousand miles.

Where can I buy a pre-reg car?

A wide range of dealerships will have pre-reg cars in stock. You can check the latest nearly new cars available through carwow.

When’s the best time to buy a pre-reg car?

Many dealerships will have targets based on months or financial quarters, usually meaning an influx of pre-reg stock. This is the best time to look for a pre-reg deal.

What should I look out for when buying a pre-reg car?

Always check when the pre-registered car was registered. This will allow you to find out how long is left on the car’s warranty.

It’s also worth checking the mileage to see if the car has been used for demonstration purposes.

Does a pre-reg car come with a warranty?

A pre-reg car will still be covered by a manufacturer’s warranty. However, this applies from the date of registration — so the warranty remaining will be shorter than if you buy a brand-new car.