Once you’ve been through the process of deciding exactly what car you want to buy – which engine you’d like, how many seats you need, whether you truly need a panoramic sunroof or if the upgraded stereo would be a better use of your money – then the most important part of the buying process is getting the best possible deal on your new wheels.
And with a dizzying array of used cars in the UK, some at much more reasonable prices than others, you might not think timing plays too big a role.
But you’d be wrong. The best deals can be found at specific times of year – when demand for new models is calm, and dealers are looking to move their stock on and maintain a steady turnover. Here’s some hints and tips to make sure you’re getting the best value possible.
The Best Time Of Year To Buy A New Car
With many buyers, both private and fleet, hoping to get the newest, shiniest cars around March and September – the time of the new registration plates – you might find the best deal shopping outside of these times.
We’d recommend shopping for a brand new car between May and early August, or again in December to January. You’ll often find popular models available in stock, so if you don’t want to wait around for a factory order this is a great choice. You might not have the pick of all the colours and trims, but you’re likely to get a very good deal if you can be flexible.
Take a look around car brokers, to see what models they’re offering the best discounts on – then, approach your local dealer and see how closely they can match those prices.
Shopping during peak times – February and late August, for example – may not see you get the best cash price, but manufacturers do offer promotions especially around finance deals, so don’t discount these totally. You might find they save you money in the long term.
The Best Time Of Year To Buy A Used Car
You’re likely to get the best deal on a used car in June through August, and then in November through to January.
Different types of car might have different pressures at these times. If you’re looking for models popular on approved-used schemes, then the best time to buy is right before the new registration plates. These main dealers have the best stock, the most comprehensive used warranties, and they’ll want to make room for an influx of PCP and new customer trade-ins.
The stock they don’t want goes through underwriters and auctions to smaller dealers – they’ll be gearing up to sell these desirable models in April, May, September and October.
In June, July and August the summer holidays mean customers time and budgets are taken elsewhere, and in winter the bitter mornings and short days also have to compete with Christmas, New Year and higher household bills.
If you’re looking for an older, lower-cost used car, there’s no best time of year to buy per se – but we’d recommend going for summer simply because it’s so much more pleasant to inspect a potentially-dodgy used purchase when it’s warm and dry.
Buy A Used Convertible In Winter
Convertibles are most in demand during the summer months. Shop when it’s cold for the best deal.
Buy A Used Off-Roader In Summer
When the weather’s good and people aren’t worried about snow, ice, or flooding, off-roaders are cheaper.
Buy At The End Of The Quarter
Aim for the end of each financial quarter and you’re more likely to find a dealer trying to hit targets – they may be more willing to strike a deal in order to shift stock.
Buy On The Last Two Days Of The Month
Similarly, dealers will do everything they can to complete a sale before month’s end.
Buy A Car On A Friday
Don’t wait till the weekend – dealerships are always quietest during the week, so staff will be more attentive and more likely to offer discounts in order to meet weekly targets.
Buy An Old Model When The New One Launches
Not overly bothered about having the latest model? Dealers will aim to shift stock of a car when its replacement – or even its mildly-facelifted update – launches.
Buy A Previous-Plate Car When The New Number Plates Are Released
Previous-plate cars are discounted when new stock arrives bearing the latest plates. There may be an excess of new stock, or a run-out model that allows leverage for a good deal.