When is the best time to buy a used car? | AA Cars

When you’re on the lookout for a car, you might be surprised to hear that the time you buy can drastically effect how much the model costs. With car dealers needing to meet sales targets at different points of the year, you can plan when to get your next car to help you get the best price.

Although there is a retail price from the manufacturer, dealers will be open to negotiating the cost of a vehicle, and when you choose to do that can affect how much they’ll be able to alter the price. 

There may be times when you can’t control when you need a vehicle, as accidents and failures happen. But if you can plan when to get your next car, we take a look at the best times in the year to buy a new car.

At the March and September number plate changes

People always want to be seen driving the latest models, right? So when the biannual plate changes occur, drivers are able to get their hands on a new vehicle with the latest registration plate. Introduced at the start of March and September, the registration changes were introduced to help spread car sales throughout the year, and replaced the old system that saw new plates only introduced in August – which saw a large spike in sales.

The prices of the new vehicle may be slightly higher at the time of purchase, but the resale value of the vehicle can be better if you buy a vehicle at the plate change, rather than the same vehicle just before. This may be a short term effect, but could be worth for those who change cars regularly.

Just before the plate change

If you’re looking for a bargain, the number plate change can also work in your favour. Towards the end of February and August – when plate changes are imminent – dealers are keen to offload pre-registered vehicles that they’ve bought to meet sales targets, to make way for newer models You may not have as wide a choice, but you’ll be able to negotiate on the price of the model and are more likely to get a good price from the dealer.

Prices when selling the vehicle on in the short term will be lower than models with newer plates, but that effect is less relevant in the long term.

Before a new model is introduced

Although it’s tempting to go for the latest model with the best tech, it may be worth looking at the car it’s replacing as it may suit you better. You’ll also be able to capitalise on dealers needing to shift stock to make room for the new model on the forecourt, so it’s always worth asking how much money they can take off.

The end of the sales quarter

The business year is normally split up into 4 segments, known as quarters. With dealerships given sales targets by the manufacturer for each quarter, businesses might be willing to lower the price of products if they need to get rid of additional stock and meet the goals set for them.

When interest is lower

If you’re after a car that’s more of a specialist, such as a convertible or a 4×4, it may be worth looking for that model out of season. With convertibles being more popular in the spring and summer, why not buy one in the winter when you’ll be more likely to push down the dealer’s price and get a better deal? Likewise, with 4x4s being more sought-after in the autumn and winter, it’s a good idea to shop around in the summer when there’s less need for an off-road vehicle that can handle slippery surfaces.

Are you looking for a used car? Our marketplace offers a wide range of vehicles, meaning it will be easy for you to find your next car.


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