The best and worst places to buy a used car in the UK

New study reveals the cities with the most trusted dealers and the best prices

A new study claims to have uncovered the best places to buy a used car based on the quality of dealerships and value for money.

It has also revealed the towns and cities where buyers are most likely to complain about their dealer and pay over the odds for a second-hand vehicle.

According to the research, Bolton is the country’s used car capital, with well-regarded dealers and a reasonable average price making it the best place to pick up a second-hand model.

Blackpool and Canterbury were close behind in the rankings, compiled by Moneybarn. Both cities’ dealerships received more recommendations but cars were more expensive.

To come up with a rating system, the researchers examined dealership reviews on the Car Dealer Reviews site, ranking each city by the number of “excellent” or “terrible” reviews. They then looked at the average price of second-hand examples of Britain’s best selling car - the Ford Fiesta - to rank cities by value, and combined the two scores.

According to Moneybarn’s calculations, Bolton leads the way with an overall score of 7.58 out of 10, with 75 per cent of customers rating their dealer excellent and only 14 per cent leaving a terrible review. Buyers also paid an average of £8,635 - more than £1,000 lower than the national average.

Blackpool scored 7.51 and Canterbury, 7.48. Both saw 79 per cent of reviews rating dealers as excellent but Canterbury scored more terrible reviews - 12 per cent compared with Blackpool’s seven, and average prices of £11,154 and £10,354 kept them behind Bolton.

The research also looked at the cities where a shortage of excellent reviews along with a high number of terrible reviews and high prices spelled bad news for buyers.

Graphic: Kim Mogg/JPI Media

Cardiff came out as the worst place to buy a used car, scoring a lowly two out of 10. Thirty eight per cent of drivers rated their dealership experience as terrible and with an average price of £10,908 for a used Fiesta the city is more than £1,000 more expensive than the national average.

Just above it, Northampton scored a meagre 2.26, with 33 per cent of reviews rated as terrible and an even higher average price of £11,588. Birmingham’s dealers performed even worse, with 41 per cent of reviews branding them terrible. However, a below average price of £8,342 kept it above the other two locations, leaving it with a ranking of 2.91.

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While Bolton was the best overall city, Weston-super-Mare topped the table for customer satisfaction, with 88.7 per cent of drivers giving an excellent rating and just 4.8 per cent leaving a terrible review. At the opposite end of the scale, in Burton-on-Trent just 37.5 per cent said their dealer was excellent while 52.1 per cent left a scathing terrible rating.

Romford had the cheapest used car offering. The average asking price of £5,894 was almost £4,000 less than the national average of £9,766 and £8,500 cheaper than in Epsom, where an average price of £14,417 earned it the title of the most expensive location.

The study only looked at cities where there were reviews for 20 or more dealerships and where there were at least 20 listings for used Fiestas listed on Parkers.co.uk.

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