When really is the best time to buy a new car? Get the diary at the ready.

By Jenn Taft

You might be surprised to learn that there are particular times of the year that are better for buying cars

The weather, getting rid of old stock and the day of the week all play a huge part in what dealers will do with their prices.


Why does it matter?

You would be right for thinking it’s slightly ridiculous that different times of the year would change the price of a car. If you think more carefully, however, it makes perfect sense. The dealers are, of course, trying to make the most profit they can.

So what changes the price of a car throughout the year?

What’s the forecast going to be?

Some cars are designed to do specific things when driven. Their qualities are usually determined largely by environment and the weather, and a lot of people will only buy their car when those specifics become necessary.

So if you want to buy a convertible, they will obviously be more popular in the summer months when they will be driven more. That means their price is higher when the sun is more likely to shine so if you are thinking of getting one, try and hold out until you are out of season. Obviously, a convertible is less desirable when the weather is rubbish, and your car will depreciate while you wait for the sun to come back round, but you will have saved money buying it!

Likewise, 4X4 cars are great for off-roading and appalling weather conditions. Bad weather is more likely in the autumn and winter, so their price will be higher then. Buy them in the summer and you’ll get them a lot cheaper.

The weather won’t ruin my plans

If you don’t want to be hit by weather specific cars, then maybe look for a car that is less affected by the changing climate. Head down the middle with a reliable hatchback and you shouldn’t have to wait for the perfect season!

Go for old when the new arrives

The number plate system in the UK changes twice a year, and people will seek those times to buy the brand new registration plate. This will mean that the car prices are higher as people want to be seen as the first to have the new number.

You can pick up an ‘old’ plate car for less nearer to March and September when the new plate is due. This could see you grab a real bargain, but be careful as it could also see your car’s value fall rapidly, as it looks ‘older’ than it really is alongside the new plate.


Trade it in for a new model

In the few weeks leading up to a new model release on a car, dealerships will be trying to get rid of the old model. These cars are no longer of great value to them, so they will want to get rid of them quickly. Go grab yourself a bargain while you can because soon only the new model will be available at a much higher price.

Things to take note of:

Again, the only problem with this is that the value of the older version will depreciate quicker when the new model arrives. If you are like me, and plan on buying a car for the long run, then such depreciation won’t really matter. If you plan on changing the car again in a few years then maybe you’ll want a different tactic to save money.

Quarterly figures

Car dealerships, like most businesses, provide quarterly figures so that an assessment of how well the business is doing can be made. These come around the end of June, September, December and March (which is also year-end).

At these times, dealerships will account for all the stock on their books, and those cars will be noted as being unsold. No dealership wants that to be a long list so just before these ‘quarter ends’ occur you should be able to get a good deal from the sales people you speak to. There should certainly be room to bring them down on price over optional extras and get better warranties or service plans thrown in too.

Good Fridays?

I grew up knowing Friday afternoons weren’t great in car manufacture. It was rumoured that if your car was built on a Friday afternoon it would be of lower quality, because everyone was so desperate to knock off for the weekend. Although this is probably an old wives tale (I’m pretty certain everyone knows a relative who will claim to have had a Friday afternoon car!) Friday afternoons now mean only good things for you if you are buying a car.

Salespeople in car dealerships now also have weekly targets as well as monthly, quarterly and annually. That’s a lot of targets to meet, so plenty of opportunities for you to take advantage and haggle for a lower price!

If you are going in to buy a car, weekdays are quietest and therefore you will get more attention from a salesperson. Go in on a Friday and you will hit week-end when they really want to make up any numbers they haven’t hit in the week. You should be able to successfully haggle on price and extras just because it helps them make up their sales numbers.

Other quiet periods include the week between Christmas and New Year’s, and between October and December. If the dealership is quiet, go grab a bargain!

Top Takeaway

- If your car is weather specific, consider buying it in the season with the opposing weather conditions. It’ll be cheaper, but you’ll have to wait to use it properly.

- Look at the times of year when there are new registration plates and models of cars released. The old versions and old plates will be cheaper as dealers try to refresh their stock.

- All dealers have weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual targets so visit them when these periods are coming to an end. They’ll want to boost their figures and will sell for less to do so.


Author bio: Jenn is a freelance writer and physics teacher from the West Midlands. She has a love of writing about personal finances, especially how they change when you become a parent, and enjoys the honesty that such writing brings. When not writing, teaching or being a mum, Jenn loves nothing more than indulging her love of hospital and police based documentaries, and cake. ?

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