When is the best time of year to buy a car?

11 June

| Surely this is one of the easiest questions in the fleet industry?


Surely this is one of the easiest questions in the fleet industry?

The obvious time to buy a new car is at the time of the two annual number plate changes in March and September. This means your new company vehicle will have the status and value of the latest registration and most up-to-date specification.

But is it as simple as that? Why do many fleet buyers do exactly the opposite? They buy their cars just BEFORE the number plate changes.

It’s because dealers will offer them huge discounts to shift old stock at this unfashionable time. Cars already registered with the ‘old’ plate are particular bargains.

One fleet expert told us he was able negotiate up to 40% off the price of new vehicles in February and August, just before the new plates appear. Of course, the savvy buyer has to do their sums. When it comes to sell the vehicle, the value won’t be as high as one with the newer registration plate.

Even bigger discounts come when a model is receiving a face-lift or being replaced by an all-new version. Older shape vehicles will be sold off at greatly reduced prices.

Buying a new model as soon as it reaches the showrooms may seem exciting but will mean you pay the absolute highest price. It can also mean you now own a vehicle that will then experience various teething problems. Buy a model at the end of its production run and most niggling faults will have been sorted out by manufacturers.

The art of car buying has been refined over the years by professionals who make it their livelihood. They will know, for example, that most dealers have quarterly sales targets. This makes June a month when sales staff become more desperate to sell cars. They are prepared to trim profit margins to the minimum in order to win a quarterly bonus for reaching their sales target.

And December is traditionally quoted as one of the worst times to buy a car but some fleet buyers think otherwise. Private sales drop off as everyone concentrates on Christmas but this is many showrooms’ end of quarter AND end of year. They may be so frantic to reach their sales targets they offer maximum discounts.

Other seasonal variations to watch for concern the type of vehicles purchased. Everyone wants convertibles in summer and SUVs in winter. So do the opposite – buy convertibles in winter and SUVs in summer – and you’ll be able to negotiate great bargains.

Some car buyers even swear by avoiding busy weekends and only visiting car dealers on quiet weekdays. Try Friday, when the sales staff will be worried that they’ve sold nothing all week… and are more likely to offer deals.

The experts at the AA have compiled some more tips for buying a new car, read them here.

Wondering which fleet vehicles to buy? Here’s our choice of the top five buys - read the blog here.

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