Understanding Number Plates | McCarthy Cars

NUMBER PLATES: WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

The number plate on your car contains information about the vehicle’s age and where it was registered. Whether you are shopping for a new or secondhand car, it is useful to know what a car’s number plate means

HOW DOES THE REGISTRATION PLATE SYSTEM WORK?

The first two letters indicate the area where the car was registered. For example, the letter combinations from LA to LY all denote a car registered in the London area. After this are two numbers – the ‘age identifier’ – which tell you the car’s age. New registration plates are released twice a year in March and September. If a car is registered in March 2016 the second two digits of its registration plate will be 16 and for September they will be 56. The last three letters are selected at random.

HOW CAN I CALCULATE THE AGE OF A VEHICLE?

If you are looking to buy a used car, the age is likely to be a key factor in the quality of the vehicle and the cost of your insurance. Almost all cars use the system detailed above, as it came into effect in September 2001. Cars that have 01 or 51 as the second two digits were registered in 2001; those with 02 or 52 were registered in 2002 and so on.

HOW CAN I GET A NEW NUMBER PLATE?

The most cost-effective way to purchase a brand new car is to trade in your current model and get a discount. New number plates come out on March 1 and September 1 every year, and you can buy a car at these times to own the newest number plate on the market. Alternatively you can buy a personalised number plate but there are certain restrictions in place – if the personalised plate has an age identifier then it can only be fitted to a car of that age or newer.

WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF THE NUMBER PLATE?

Number plates have been around as long as cars. The UK introduced a registration plate system in 1904, over ten years later than France who pioneered the idea. For the first 50 years, registration plates used a serial letter, a two-letter code and a sequence of up to four numbers. From the 1950s until 2001 each registration plate had a prefix letter identifying the year the car was registered followed by up to three numbers and then three letters to show where the car was from. The current system started in September 2001.

DO YOU HAVE ANY FURTHER QUESTIONS?

To find out more and speak to a member of the sales team, please enquire online or phone us in Croydon.

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