Figures released by this week show that the number of second-hand cars being sold in Ireland with outstanding finance is increasing steadily. The figures show that some 11.5 per cent of cars on sale still have money owed on them - up from 9.5 per cent last June - and buyers are warned that it is they and not the seller who will take on the debt. Buyers could actually lose the car and the money they paid for it.

Worryingly, the analysis by shows that cars less than three years old are an especial risk, with more than 30 per cent of them carrying outstanding loans. That means if you are buying a car three years old or less you have a one in three chance of being caught out with money owed on the car to a finance company.

It seems PCP's - the latest personal contract plans - have been a major factor here. They are increasing in popularity but also increasing the risk of default. 

According to John Byrne of,: “Finance levels for cars offered for sale which are less than 3 years old are over 30%. This means a buyer in the market for a relatively new car needs to be particularly careful. The rising levels of finance for newer cars may be attributable to the prominence of PCPs – but remember the impact for a potential buyer is the same: the finance house owns the vehicle until the last payment is made. You can lose the car if you purchase it with finance outstanding. Overall finance levels are rising again. Cartell warned the market in 2015 that finance levels had bottomed out – and would rise. We anticipate levels reaching or even surpassing 13% in 2017.”

Percentages of Vehicles with Outstanding Finance by Registration Year checked on 

Year% Finance Outstanding

2005   - 0.7285

2006  - 0.9618

2007  - 1.6384

2008 - 3.7103

2009 - 5.3083

2010 - 8.1874

2011 - 12.6124

2012 - 16.512

2013 - 27.3281

2014 - 27.7362

2015 - 31.4657

2016 - 32.6757