Here are the thoughts of a Brit abroad on the advantages and disadvantages of buying a car from the UK…
Advantages of buying a secondhand car from the UK
Secondhand Car Prices
Cars in the UK depreciate much more quickly than in France. Many cars will lose 30% of their value in the first year in the UK.
After 3 years the value will be around 40 to 50% of their original value. Some cars (Fords and Vauxhalls in particular) can depreciate much more quickly. A Vauxhall Astra or Ford Focus may only be worth 50% of its original price by the time it is 18 months old!
A lot of this is caused by the amount of fleet sales in the UK. When these cars are released from the fleets they have to be moved on and because there are so many on the market the price has to be low to sell them.
Because there are much fewer cars on the second hand market in France, they keep their value much better. The French tend to keep their cars longer and the fleet market is much smaller than in the UK. So no surplus cars that have to be sold cheaply!
Extras! Cars in the UK often have a better specification than cars in France. Many in the UK come with alloy wheels, climate control, leather trim and colours other than grey or black! Many French registered cars come with a more basic specification.
Used Car Warranty
Cars supplied in the UK usually have a 3-year warranty whereas most cars sold in France have just a 2-year warranty. The UK warranty is valid for 3 years even if the car is registered in France later as long as the car is serviced by the dealer at the correct intervals. Some companies offer 5 or even 7-year warranties in the UK. Kia and Hyundai are two car manufacturers that offer long warranties.
Huge choice of secondhand cars
Many more cars are available in the UK so it should be easier to find the car you want. Mileages are often lower than comparable cars in France. Usually, they have fewer dents and scratches than French registered cars too!
The drawbacks of buying a secondhand car from the UK
Right-Hand Drive – RHD
Your UK supplied car will be right-hand drive. This can make overtaking a bit more awkward. It doesn’t matter in Brittany though, as there is no traffic! And what little traffic that is there is usually made up of tractors! Plus, it helps you know exactly how close to the ditch you can get as you are right next to it when that French driver comes around a bend in the middle of the road!
Registering your UK car in France
You will need a Certificate of conformity from the manufacturer, the original bill of sale, the log book (registration document), Proof of ID, and a utility bill (EDF, Water or phone). Plus some cash for the Prefecture! The amount of cash seems to vary with the size of your engine and the age of the car! If your car is more than 4 years old you will also need a Contrôle Technique (the French MOT). To get this you will also need to change your headlights for ones made for driving on the right.
Selling your UK car in France
It will be more difficult to sell your car in France as it is RHD. Prices for RHD seem to be around 30% lower than a French LHD. Your main market will be the Brits living over here.
Apart from that, there are not a lot of drawbacks. You could argue for either option, but it is down to personal choice, really. Weigh up the pros and cons of each option and think about what would suit you best, everyone has their own opinion. For me, the savings of several thousand euros on the purchase price outweigh the drawbacks and more than make up for the costs of registering the car over here.