When to buy a car

Getting a good deal on a new or used car often depends on the time of year you buy it. Make sure you keep an eye on the calendar so that you can take advantage of seasonal factors that affect the car trade. To find out when to time your purchase, read on.

When to buy a new car

Top tip

To help you work out the car’s running costs, try using our Car costs calculator.

Choosing the best time of the year to buy a car could potentially save you thousands of pounds. Here’s what to bear in mind:

  • In February and August many dealers offer some real bargains, while sales are slow as buyers wait for the new number plates coming in March and September. But If you take advantage of this lull, your ‘old’ number plates will make your car seem older than it really is, so it will depreciate faster.
  • At the end of each quarter – particularly the end of June and December – dealers may be keen to hit their quarterly sales targets and more likely to offer you a good deal.
  • Find out when new models or ‘face-lifted’ existing models are due out, then buy the previous version during its last few weeks in the showroom. Dealers will be want to shift this stock and be more likely to offer you a good deal. But remember that the older model will depreciate faster than the new arrivals, even though it’s roughly the same age.
  • Convertibles are more desirable in the summer, so there may be bargains to be had in the winter.
  • Demand for four-wheel-drive vehicles usually peaks during autumn and winter because of poorer weather, so you may get a bigger discount in the summer.
  • Showrooms are quieter on weekdays so drop in on a Friday – when the dealer will also be keen to meet their weekly target. This gives you a double advantage when bargaining with the salesperson.
  • Wait a few months after launch before buying a new model – by then there will be less showroom buzz about it so the dealer may well offer you a better deal.

When to buy a used car

Seasonal trends in sales of new cars have a knock-on effect on the cost of used cars. So time your purchase right and you could get a real bargain:

  • March and September are the peak months for sales of new cars, often through part-exchange deals. So dealers will have lots of used cars to sell, which puts you in a strong position when negotiating.
  • Dealers are also often keen to clear out used cars in July and early August in readiness for new models and the registration plate change on 1 September.
  • December and January are quiet months for the used car trade. Cars aren’t on people’s minds around Christmas and the New Year so dealers and private sellers are keen to make a deal.
  • Avoid buying used convertibles in the spring and summer – wait until winter when demand is lower.
  • But buy four-wheel-drive vehicles in the summer – demand peaks in the late autumn and winter because of the poorer weather.

Your next step

To get the best deal on a used car, find out how to negotiate when buying a new or used car.

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