Number plate system makes sense – really!

For those who don’t understand the number plate system, Editor David Hooper explains how it works.

The number plate system isn’t as complicated as it may at first seem.

IF you, like most people I know, are confused by the number plate system, it’s about to get even more mind-boggling.
The current system was introduced in September 2001, yet most people readily admit to being unable to tell how hold a car is by translating the information on its number plate.
With the current format, the first two letters are known as ‘local memory tags’. They are followed by two numbers to indicate the year of registration known as ‘age identifiers’, followed by three more randomly chosen letters.
Put simply, number plates change every six months, in March and September, to indicate the half year and use a zero or a five before the year itself. For example, the first half of 2009 is shown as 09 and the second half, from September, as 59.
But now, we’re into double figures! So what happens now? It is fairly logical – honest. From March 1, 2010, the age-identifier part of the plate showed “10”  and the current five adds one to become six to show 60 in September. In 2011 the March number will be 11, and in September,  61, and so on.
You see  – it’s simple!
Even if you don’t understand the collection of letters and numbers on the front of your car, it’s certainly a good time to buy a new one, with dealers falling over themselves to shift their stock and offer the best, most tempting deals they possibly can.
Many dealers incentives, combined with excellent finance offers and all the usual tempters like free insurance, sat navs, fuel, and so on.
The motor industry has endured a tough couple of years, and this year is unlikely to be much easier, yet despite this, there is the usual torrent of new models being introduced which the manufacturers are obviously keen to find homes for.
If you are not offered a good price for your used car, haggle – and haggle hard. Don’t accept the first price you are offered, and negotiate on finance rates and any extras you might want thrown in as part of the deal.
Even though your neighbours might not recognise a new car on your drive as easily as they once might have done from its number plate, the pleasure you get from driving a brand new car is the same as it always has been, and that’s what really matters.