Buyers beware: check if the car you are buying is being sold to you “in debt”.

Motorists are being warned to check if the car they are planning to buy still has repayments due as the latest figures show an increase in vehicles with outstanding financing.

New research shows that a car three years old or younger has a one-in-three chance of being sold with outstanding payments.

Buyers are strongly advised to be cautious as such cars actually belong to the credit institution that is owed the balance of the debt.

The lender can take possession of the car at any time, so you not only lose the car, but all the money you spent to buy it as well.

The car is not yours until the balance is paid to the financial institution.

Vehicle data experts revealed the latest extent of the potential problem in a report published today.

It examined 5,906 vehicles for sale, verified through the website.

The numbers show that a year-old vehicle now has a 32 percent chance of being financed. That’s not much (1 percent) above the corresponding number 12 months ago and still lower than the 34 percent recorded two years ago, but it still remains a significant level of risk.

In 2021, the comparable figures showed a decline in financial levels compared to 2020. The main reason for this was considered to be the pandemic.

The market has then started to correct itself, with financing levels for a two-year-old car now rising to 35 percent – up from 33 percent last year.

And if you’re looking for a three-year-old (2019) vehicle, the percentage of vehicles for sale with outstanding financing is 32 percent.

The report says: “This means that the probability that a three-year-old vehicle will be offered for sale with outstanding financing is still more than one in three, and the overall level has increased slightly compared to the same period last year.”

When inspecting four-year-old vehicles, there was a 21 percent chance that refunds were still due.

The report finds that, for example, a six-year-old vehicle is relatively highly financed. It shows that 16 percent had outstanding finances, versus 15 percent.

While there hasn’t been a dramatic increase, the figures show that there is a significant amount of debt on many cars for sale. One reason could be that buyers are testing the waters to see what the car is worth before considering what their next move will be. But there are definitely people who can’t afford the repayment and try to sell a car “in debt”.

Ross Conlon, CEO of, Group Director of New Business at Mediahuis Ireland, said: “We are witnessing a market correction. The overall percentage of vehicles for sale with outstanding financing in key registration years has increased since the declines seen in 2020.

“Buyers should be aware that there is now a one in three chance that a vehicle three years old or less will be for sale with outstanding financing.”

He urged potential buyers to be “careful” as “you cannot acquire good ownership of the asset until the final payment has been made”. He warned, “That means you might be buying a huge problem.”

Reasons for the increase in auto financing levels are also likely to be due to increased market activity that has opened up after the pandemic and lack of availability of new cars due to microchip shortage. Buyers beware: check if the car you are buying is being sold to you “in debt”.

Fry Electronics Team

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