Our Guide to the Best Used Car Brands in the UK in 2024

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Joe Brayne

Car Purchasing Guru

Hunting for the perfect wheels in the UK? A used car may be your answer! 

The UK’s used car market is booming, offering a diverse range of options for every driver. Whether you’re looking for a reliable family vehicle, a budget-friendly commuter, or an estate car with ample boot space for adventures, choosing the right car is crucial for a smooth journey. 

In 2024, the ongoing cost of living crisis has made value for money and reliability more important factors in the car search than ever before. Fear not! This guide is your roadmap to finding the best used cars in the UK, equipping you with insights into the most reliable brands and models.

Finding the Perfect Match: Putting You in the Driver’s Seat

Before diving into the specifics of car brands and models, take a moment to consider your driving style and needs. After all, the perfect car for weekend getaways might not fare as well on the daily commute.

  • Small Cars: If you’re navigating busy city streets or looking for a car that’s easy on your wallet, small cars are an excellent choice. These vehicles are not only compact and easy to park but also offer great fuel efficiency. While diesel vehicles can offer better fuel economy on long journeys, petrol options may be more suitable for frequent short trips around town.
  • Estate Cars: For families or those needing extra storage, estate cars are the way to go. They boast plentiful boot space, making them a well-rounded option for individuals juggling weekend getaways, school runs, and shopping trips.
  • SUVs: SUVs are ideal for those who prefer a higher driving position, offering better visibility and a sense of security. They are versatile too, typically coming with all-wheel drive to help you tackle harsh terrains or weather conditions.
  • Electric Cars: For those passionate about reducing their carbon footprint, electric vehicles (EVs) or plug-in hybrids are the solution. EVs offer low running costs and are environmentally friendly, while plug-in hybrids provide the flexibility to drive on electric power for shorter journeys and switch to a petrol engine for longer trips.

Ready to explore the exciting world of used cars? Car Loans UK can help you find a vehicle tailored to your needs and budget. Apply for a free, no-obligation quote today to make your dreams a reality!

Reliability: Why It Matters Most in a Used Car

A reliable used car doesn’t just get you from point A to point B – it offers peace of mind, knowing you can depend on it. This translates to lower maintenance costs, fewer unexpected repair bills, and a longer lifespan for your car. 

In the used car market, where the history and condition of vehicles can vary significantly, reliability is often the crucial factor behind a smart investment.

Why Reliability is Crucial for Used Car Buyers

Reliability in a used car isn’t an ‘attractive bonus’, but rather a must-have. For a stress-free ride, consider the importance of reliability in second hand cars:

  • Lower Maintenance Costs: Reliable cars are built to last. While consistent maintenance is necessary for all vehicles, a trustworthy car is less prone to unexpected breakdowns.
  • Resale Value: When you prioritise reliability, you’re not just investing in a car, you’re investing in its future. Reliable used cars depreciate slower, meaning you’ll get a higher return on your investment if you decide to sell or trade-in down the line.
  • Safety First: A car that’s consistently maintained and less likely to experience mechanical issues gives you peace of mind on the road.
  • Peace of Mind: Although intangible, the comfort that comes with knowing your car is dependable allows you to drive with confidence.

Key Factors That Contribute to a Car’s Reliability

So, what makes a car truly dependable? Here are some key aspects to consider when searching for the perfect used car:

  • Brand Reputation: Some manufacturers have earned a well-deserved reputation for building cars that go the distance. While brand name alone isn’t a foolproof guarantee, it’s often a strong indicator of a car’s potential longevity.
  • Maintenance History: A comprehensive service record is a strong indicator that the previous owner cared for the vehicle, increasing its chances of continued reliability.
  • Mileage: Lower mileage generally translates to less wear and tear, which can contribute to reliability. However, don’t dismiss a well-maintained car simply because it has a few extra miles on the clock – a car with higher mileage that was properly cared for can still provide reliability.
  • Model Reviews and Ratings: Read through reviews and ratings from other car buyers who can offer valuable real-world experiences and shed light on a model’s reliability.

By keeping these factors in mind on your used car search, you can steer away from bad investments. Our specialist team is at hand to help you identify a reliable used car finance plan tailored to your needs – get in touch today!

Top Used Car Brands in the UK for 2024

Finding the perfect used car involves a combination of a trustworthy brand and standout model. Let us explore some of the most trusted brands and models in 2024. 

Most Reliable Car Brands


A name synonymous with dependability, Toyota builds cars that go the distance. Renowned for their robust engineering and high-quality materials, Toyotas consistently top reliability charts – ranking first on reliability among Britain’s volume car makers in 2023. Models like the Toyota Corolla and Toyota Yaris are particularly praised for their longevity and minimal maintenance needs.


Another Japanese powerhouse, Honda has built a reputation for producing reliable and efficient vehicles. Their commitment to quality and efficiency shines through in popular models like the iconic Honda Civic and the spacious Honda CR-V.

Honda Civic on a road with mist in the background.


Skoda, a Czech manufacturer now under the Volkswagen Group umbrella, has emerged as a leader in reliability. Skoda offers a compelling combination of affordability and quality, with the Skoda Kodiaq topping the 2021 Driver Power survey in terms of reliability.


Hyundai has made impressive strides in reliability over the past decade, exemplified in popular models like the Hyundai i30 hatchback and Hyundai Tucson SUV. The Korean manufacturer’s consistent high scores across industry reliability surveys make it a trusted brand.

Best Second Hand Car Models in the UK

Volkswagen Golf: The All-Around Champion

The Volkswagen Golf remains a crowd-pleaser among UK buyers for good reason. It strikes a perfect balance between performance, comfort, and practicality. Renowned for its solid build quality and reliable engines, the Golf delivers a smooth driving experience. Better yet, it retains a good resale value, making it a wise financial choice for used car buyers.

Skoda Superb Estate: King of Space

For those searching for a car which rarely runs out of space, the Skoda Superb Estate is an excellent choice. This model offers a spacious interior and boot space that can easily handle weekend trips with family or friends, Moreover, the Super Estate’s robust engineering ensures longevity, providing another layer of family-proofing.

Nissan Qashqai: Stylish SUV

There is no surprise that the Nissan Qashqai was the UK’s best-selling car in the UK in 2022. Seamlessly blending stylish design with comfortable interiors and dependable performance, the Qashqai can conquer urban streets and off-road tracks with ease.

Ready to secure your perfect match? Weigh up your used car finance options with a 60-second quote from Car Loans UK.

How Used Cars Are More Accessible Than Ever

In 2024, UK used car buyers have a variety of financing options available. While traditional methods remain, such as purchasing outright or a bank loan, alternative finance packages are growing increasingly popular. These include finance plans such as Hire Purchase (HP) and Personal Contract Purchase (PCP).

At Car Loans UK, we offer a tailored car finance package to help you find the perfect used car. Our team of experts is dedicated to helping you secure a deal that fits your budget and lifestyle. Here’s how we can help:

  • Personalised Finance Options: We offer a range of finance solutions tailored to your needs, whether you prefer HP or PCP.
  • Competitive Rates: Our extensive network of lenders ensures you get competitive interest rates and terms.
  • Expert Advice: Our knowledgeable advisors guide you through the finance process, ensuring you understand all aspects and make an informed decision.
  • Convenient Online Services: Apply for finance online and get quick approvals, making the car-buying process seamless and stress-free.

By partnering with Car Loans UK, you can drive away in one of the best used cars available, confident that you’ve secured a great finance deal. Ready to explore your options? Contact us today and take the first step towards owning your ideal used car.

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