Ask the expert: ‘Should I trade my used car for a new one to take advantage of high values?’

Alex Robbins is contributing editor at Telegraph Cars where, as well as responding to readers’ queries, he also contributes reviews of new and used cars, together with articles on buying and selling. 

His knowledge of the used car market informs his many buying guides relating to the best buys in particular sectors, with an emphasis on value for money.  Every week he will answer your questions on buying and selling, as well as solving your car problems, whether consumer or mechanical.

Do you have a motoring dilemma you’d like our expert to solve?  For consumer and used car advice, or car faults, email and include your subscriber number. This week’s question… 

Dear Alex,

I bought a new Ford Focus Active X Edition in March 2021 and it has done less than 5,000 miles. Given the enhanced values of nearly-new used cars, could it be to my advantage to trade it in now for a new replacement?

– GS

Dear GS,

It’s an interesting point. New car prices haven’t gone up to quite the same extent as used, so trading in a nearly-new car now, rather than waiting a year or two for used values to sink back (or new car values to rise) might be a savvy move. 

Let’s have a look at the market for Focuses. Judging by what’s out there, and assuming your car is a 1.0 Ecoboost Hybrid with a manual gearbox, it would probably retail at a dealer for £25,000-£26,000 right now, which means (at a rough guess) you’d probably be offered somewhere in the region of £23,000 for it as a part-exchange or on a dealer auction site such as Motorway. 

If you were to buy now, you’d get a new and freshly facelifted Focus, which brings with it a much bigger and better touchscreen in the centre of the dash – undoubtedly a plus. And because it’s the facelift model, it’ll be worth slightly more relative to your current pre-facelift car in a few years’ time. 

The new model range also does away with the Active X model in favour of the Active Vignale, which is better equipped, but at the same time costs more, at £27,425 for the 1.0-litre 123bhp engine (which, curiously, is no longer a mild hybrid); your car would have retailed at £26,810 a year or two ago, so actually, given the inflation hike in the meantime, that doesn’t seem like too hefty an uplift 

With a bit of haggling, you might be able to knock a few hundred quid off that price, though with supply constraints as they are, don’t expect much of a discount. In other words, you’re basically talking about an outlay of up to £5,000 for a newer car, a year of extra warranty and more equipment. 

I think it’s probably worth looking into on that basis – but whether it’s worth committing will depend on what sort of deal you can get, both on the new car and on your part-exchange. And if the dealer won’t budge on price, don’t forget to try asking for valuable extras like an extended warranty or a few years’ free servicing, which might make it worth your while.

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