Ask the expert: ‘Can I delay registering my Audi so it appears newer than it really is?’

Dear Alex

I am expecting delivery of a new Audi Avant estate next week. Will it boost its resale value in, say, three years’ time if I delay registering my new car until January 2022 (albeit still on a 21 plate rather than a 22 year signifier that comes into effect at the start of March)? I had previously suggested to the dealer that I would pay for the new car, collect it on a trailer and hand over the trade-in, while expecting them to deal with the registration paperwork at the start of January. They do not seem keen. Why?

– TP

Dear TP

If I’m correct, what you’re hoping to achieve is to effectively turn your 2021 Audi into a 2022 car by delaying its registration until January, in the hope that that will boost its value when the time comes to sell it, because it will appear newer than it really is.

As you rightly say, though, the car will still be on the same age of registration plate (in fact, it’ll now be a 71-plate, which came in on September 1, then replaced by the 22 registration next March). With that in mind, while there might be a very small uplift in value in three years’ time, I don’t think it’ll be all that much – possibly in the order of a couple of hundred pounds, if that.

Therefore, I’m not convinced that the whole process is worth the hassle. For one thing, you might have to explain to a buyer when it’s three years old why the date of manufacture and the date of registration are so far apart. It’s not exactly fraud, as a similar thing happens when manufacturers can’t shift cars and leave them sitting, unregistered, in a field somewhere, but it does misrepresent the car somewhat; that might be enough to put off some buyers.

For another, the manufacturer might insist on the car being serviced within a year of the date you took delivery, rather than first registration; if you don’t oblige, it might invalidate the warranty. Again, any conscientious buyer might then ask about the discrepancy between the ­servicing and registration dates, and if you intend to get rid of the car when it’s approaching three years old, you might have to fork out for one more service than you had planned to.

Finally, there’s convincing the dealer to do it. I’m not surprised they’re not that keen on the idea – because the car doesn’t count towards their sales ­targets, upon which their bonus from the manufacturer is based, until the car is registered.

That shifts the sale of your car from Q4 of 2021, normally quite a fallow period, to Q1 of 2022, when sales usually pick up anyway. Quite apart from them having to put the registration paperwork aside and then remember to do it in a few months’ time, this will probably be the chief reason they don’t sound enthusiastic.

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