MOTORISTS owe less on their cars, new research reveals.

ccording to vehicle data expert Cartell.ie, there has been a noticeable drop in finance levels compared with 2020 on cars that have been offered for sale.

But potential buyers are being warned that buying a car that has finance outstanding – in other words, money owed to a lending institution that has not been cleared – still risks the vehicle being seized and their losing all they have paid for it.

The lending institutions are legally entitled to take such a car without notifying you.

So you could, in extreme circumstances, come out some morning to discover the car for which you paid thousands of hard-earned euro has been taken away by its rightful owners.

The good news is that the risk of that happening has receded somewhat as less is now owed on more cars, according to Cartell.ie data compiled for last year compared with 2020.

However, some older cars that were put on the market had more finance owed than newer models.

According to Cartell, the key reasons for the dip include: 

The overall market for cars is down due to the pandemic and the post-Brexit environment.

Finance houses were hesitant to provide loans if jobs were not secure or perceived not to be.

More people worked from home last year, so there was less need to change cars.  

People had more money saved due to lockdowns, so there was less need for finance.

Trade-in values were strong, again obviating the need for more finance.

People held on to cars longer for a variety of reasons, including shortage of used motors and new-car chip scarcity.

The “money-owed” trend emerged from 5,906 vehicles offered for sale and checked via the Cartell.ie website in the first 11 months of 2021.

Nearly 31pc of three-year-old cars were offered for sale with finance outstanding, but that figure is down from 36pc.

In the case of one-year-old cars, the percentage offered for sale with repayments owed is down to 31pc from 34pc.

Of the two-year-old cars checked, there was a 36pc chance of someone buying a car with repayments due.

Likewise with three-year-old cars, the level has dropped, to 33pc last year.

However, the figures for older vehicles are going up in some cases.

Of the seven-year-old vehicles in 2021, for example, 13pc had finance outstanding in the first 11 months of 2021, but were pitched slightly lower at 12.5pc in 2020.

Jeff Aherne, innovation lead at Cartell.ie, said: “The overall percentages of vehicles offered for sale with finance outstanding in key registration years has fallen from 2020 levels.

“As always, buyers should continue to be cautious. Even taking six-year-old vehicles as an example, nearly one in six of those still return outstanding finance.”

Mr Aherne also warned that, despite the recent drop in repayments still owed, the levels of finance at the top of the market are still high.

“Buyers are strongly advised to be cautious in the market as you cannot take good title in the asset until the final payment has been paid to the financial institution,” he added.

“This means you may be buying a huge problem.”

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