How safe a car is has topped the bill for what used vehicle buyers prioritise when buying a second-hand car, new research has revealed.

According to data from AA Cars, a quarter of used vehicle buyers rank the safety of a vehicle as their most important consideration, followed by the car’s condition (23%) and how trustworthy the seller is (14%).

Perhaps surprisingly, just 12% of used car buyers rate an affordable price tag as their main priority when selecting a used vehicle.

At the other end of the scale, just 1% of drivers stated that low emission levels were their key concern, while another 1% said the car’s speed and performance was a key factor, and just 2% stated its age was an important factor.

Meanwhile, less than 1% of the 18,077 AA members surveyed considered the convenience of the dealership a priority.

The AA’s survey also found that women (31%) are far more likely to be drawn to a second-hand vehicle because of its safety record than men (22%).

“Just how influential the impact of online car shopping has been is born out in how few people are bothered about the convenience of a dealership,” said Simon Benson, director of motoring services at AA Cars. “The typical car buyer no longer just hopes to chance upon the right car locally – evidence shows that drivers will do extensive research online before heading to a dealership that they can trust.”

He added: “When buying a car, take your time and do your research. Arm yourself with information and get a gauge on what feels like the right price for the make and model you’re after.”

Used car buying priorities ranked
Reliability 25%
Condition 23%
Trust in dealer 14%
Price 12%
Mileage 7%
Running costs 5%
N/A 5%
Other 2%
Age 2%
Style 2%
Low emission levels 1%
Speed/performance 1%
Convenience of dealership <1%