The best reviewed and cheapest places when it comes to buying second hand
When buying a car, many of us choose to look for a second-hand option. With a huge range of models to choose from, all at a fraction of the price of a new car, the benefits are obvious, but there are always risks when buying and financing a used car. If you travel to buy a used car and you experience issues with it, you will need to travel to take it back to the dealership!
From paying over the odds to being landed with a car riddled with problems, or even just experiencing poor customer service, buying second-hand can be a minefield.
So which UK cities are the best when it comes to buying a used car, where you’ll get not just the best service, but also the best value for your money?
Note: All data correct as of August 2021.
Taking into account both customer reviews and the average price to buy a used car (using the UK’s most common car, the Ford Fiesta), the town of Bolton in Greater Manchester came out as the best place to buy a used car!
Three-quarters of reviews left for dealerships in the town were rated as excellent, with just 14% being rated as terrible. On top of these glowing reviews, it was also among the most affordable places when buying used, with a Ford Fiesta costing an average of £8,635.
Another Lancashire town takes second place, with Blackpool car dealers proving very popular with customers.
79% of reviews in the area were excellent, while just 7% were rated as terrible, although the cost to buy was slightly higher than in neighbouring Bolton, which is why the seaside resort falls just behind in second.
Narrowly behind Blackpool was Canterbury, in Kent, which also had a reassuring review rating of 79% excellent, with just 12% of reviews being terrible.
First, we looked at customer reviews of dealerships around the country, taking the towns and cities with the highest percentage of ‘excellent reviews’ (excluding places with fewer than 20 dealerships).
Below are the top three places with the best reviews, but it’s also interesting to see that two of the country’s biggest cities, Liverpool and Manchester, both make the top 20, with a quarter of the top 20 places found in Greater Manchester.
The town with the highest number of ‘excellent’ reviews was the seaside town of Weston-super-Mare, where the local car dealerships hold a hugely impressive rate of 88.7%, while just 4.8% of reviews in the area were rated as terrible.
If you live in the South West and don’t mind a trip to the seaside for some excellent customer service when buying your next car then Weston might be the place to go!
In second place was Cannock, in Staffordshire, which also has a very impressive ratio of car dealerships rated as excellent, with around four in five.
Cannock is fairly close to a number of other towns and cities such as Wolverhampton, Lichfield, Walsall, Stafford and Telford, so residents in these places may want to consider heading to Cannock for their next vehicle purchase.
Not far behind Cannock in terms of top tier dealership reviews is Canterbury, Kent, with 78.9% of reviews being ‘excellent’, just 0.1% more than Blackpool in fourth.
With its cobbled streets and famous cathedral, Canterbury is a popular tourist destination, but you might want to have a casual browse of a car dealership too if you’re visiting!
However, not all towns and cities fared so well when it came to customer satisfaction and here are the places that received the highest proportion of ‘terrible reviews’ (again, just for places with at least 20 dealerships).
Note that while these places had the highest number of bad reviews, it could just be a handful of dealerships in the area that have attracted these reviews, so they don’t necessarily reflect all dealerships in the town!
The unfortunate title of the town with the worst-reviewed car dealerships was Burton upon Trent, where over half (52.1%) of reviews left for dealerships were deemed to be ‘terrible’.
However, with Burton being less than an hour from the town with the second-highest rating, Cannock, perhaps locals don’t have too far to go to find better service.
Another town, unfortunately, had over 50% ‘terrible’ reviews and that was Keighley in West Yorkshire.
Another West Yorkshire town also made the 20 worst places, Halifax, with 36.1% of reviews there being ‘terrible’.
Completing the bottom three is Poole, in Dorset, with 47.1% of reviews for car dealerships in the area being ‘terrible’.
Next up, we looked at thousands of used car listings to see which towns and cities work out as the cheapest when buying used, using the country’s most popular car, the Ford Fiesta, as our example. (Again, we only looked at cities where there were more than 20 listings, to try and avoid any anomalies.)
While London is generally known for being much more expensive than the rest of the country, there’s seemingly one corner of the capital where this isn’t the case, at least when it comes to buying a used car. That’s because the average price of a used Ford Fiesta in Romford stands at just £5,894!
The second cheapest city to buy a used car in was Newcastle upon Tyne, in the North East, with an average price of £7,193.
As the biggest city in the region, many people in the area probably choose to head to Newcastle when looking for a new car anyway, but they can be reassured that they’re getting a good price if they do!
Not far behind Newcastle as the third cheapest place to buy a car is Derby, with a used Ford Fiesta costing an average of £7,397.
However, when we look at the most expensive places to buy a used car, we see just how much prices can differ around the country.
Epsom was the most expensive of all, with an average price of £14,417 for a Ford Fiesta, which is around two and a half times more expensive than in the cheapest place (Romford).
Warwick was the second most expensive place to buy a used Ford Fiesta, with an average price of £14,132, although those in the area who decide to look elsewhere may not have much luck.
That’s because neighbouring places such as Nuneaton, and a little further afield in the West Midlands such as Walsall, Solihull and Oldbury also appeared in the bottom 20!
Taking third place when it comes to the most expensive places for a used car is Sutton-in-Ashfield, in Nottinghamshire, with an average price of £14,104. Sutton-in-Ashfield was one of nine cities in the 20 most expensive to be found in the Midlands.
The best and worst-reviewed towns and cities were calculated using reviews data from Car Dealer Reviews and we took the places which had the highest percentages of excellent and terrible reviews respectively.
We also chose to only look at towns and cities with reviews listed for 20 or more dealerships, as for places with lower numbers of establishments, results were skewed or unreliable.
For the cheapest and most expensive places to buy, we looked at the prices of thousands of listings on Parkers, choosing to look at prices for the UK’s most popular car, the Ford Fiesta, looking at all ages, models and trims currently listed on the site.
As with the reviews, we chose to only look at towns and cities that had 20 or more listings on the site, to ensure there were no anomalies.