Effect of rising living costs on used car choice has grown strongly in last six months, figures show

14 Sep 2023

The effect of rising living costs on which used cars are chosen by consumers has grown strongly in the last six months, according to September’s Startline Used Car Tracker.

  • 74% of motorists say running costs are the most important factor when choosing a used car now compared to 62% in April
  • Other considerations include cost of living (65%), inflation (36%) and job security (24%), shows September’s Startline Used Car Tracker

Running costs are the most important factor now named by 74% of motorists compared to 62% in April, followed by the cost of living, which is now at 65% against 61% over the same period. Similarly, inflation has risen from 26% to 36% and job security from 20% to 24%.


These factors make up the top four mentioned by consumers when asked what will affect the car they choose to buy, far outstripping non-financial reasons such as environmental impact (19%) or their family size having changed (16%).


Paul Burgess, CEO at Startline Motor Finance, said: “While the inflation rate has fallen, it remains historically high and rising prices are putting an increasing squeeze on everyday spending by motorists. This was already obvious when we asked this question six months and has clearly become much more of a problem since.


“People who are buying a used car today are concerned about what it means to their month-to-month running costs but also about how those may increase in the future, as well as whether their job is secure enough for them to take on what is a very big financial commitment for most people. These worries are understandable.”


The Startline Used Car Tracker also specifically looked at the rising costs of car insurance. Here 23% of people said their premiums had risen substantially while another 46% had seen them increase a little. More than one in three (36%) have shopped around for cheaper insurance and 1% have even been tempted to drive without cover.


Paul added: “Higher insurance costs seem to have been especially on the minds of motorists this year and these findings show why. Almost seven out of 10 have seen increases and many of those are significant amounts, rather than the usual annual adjustments. It’s another of several areas where consumers are facing rapidly rising costs just to keep their car on the road.”


The Startline Used Car Tracker is compiled monthly for Startline Motor Finance by APD Global Research, well-known in the motor industry for their business intelligence reporting and customer experience programs. This time, 349 consumers and 60 dealers were questioned.