Let’s look in to how you can play a few tricks of the trade to get the best deal on a used car from a dealership.
- Buy when new registrations are coming out
Our new-car registration plate prefix changes twice a year, in January and in July. In 2021, for example, the new 211 plates will arrive on the 1st of January and then on the 1st of July we’ll get the start of the 212 registrations. If you want to get the best deal on a used car, you might want to focus on just before these times as dealers try to shift stock for the expected influx of trade-ins.
- Buy at the end of the week
Simple one, but dealerships can be quiet during weekdays, as most people tend to view cars at weekends. Any sales-related industry will have targets for its salesforce to meet and the car trade is no exception – so it’s likely that, if you go into a dealership on a Friday, you might get a better price on a second-hand car if the salesperson has a weekly quota to fill. And that leads us onto…
- Buy at the end of the month or the end of a quarter
Choose the last two days of any month and you could find a salesperson desperate to meet a monthly target who will give you a decent discount on a used car. This applies even more if the last two days of the month are at the end of one of the year’s quarters (so March Q1, June Q2, September Q3 and December Q4), because car sales staff will definitely have quarterly targets, even if they don’t have weekly or monthly quotas.
- Buy when a new model comes out or a vehicle gets a facelift
If you’ve always fancied, say, buying a Skoda Octavia, and you do your research to find out that an all-new model is on the way, that’s the time to try and bag an excellent deal on a late example of the version that’s about to be replaced. Certainly, if you’re talking a main dealer (in our example, a Skoda dealer), then they will want to shift all of their ‘old’ Octavia stock in time for the new cars appearing. This equates to cheaper prices on the model that’s about to be superseded. This rule also applies on midlife facelifts of cars – typically, most models have a life-cycle of about seven years, so look to buy your preferred car when it’s coming up for three or four years old, as a revised, updated version could be on the way to depress second-hand values.
- Buy seasonally
Sounds daft, given how advanced modern cars are and how this rule no longer should apply, but there’s still a fear in the general car-buying populace about purchasing convertibles in winter – this stems from the belief that they’ll somehow leak or be colder to be in during inclement weather. So if you’ve had your heart set on a Mazda MX-5 and it’s August, perhaps bide your time until it gets to October or November, as the price of the car will fall notably as the nights get longer and the weather grows cooler. You’ll still have your convertible ready for full enjoyment when the next year’s hottest months eventually roll around, after all, but you’ll have saved a few Euro in the process. The inverse of this is SUVs and 4x4s, which are more in demand in winter when people want the security of all-wheel-drive traction – therefore, prices of these will be (relatively speaking) at their lowest in the drier, warmer summer months as demand for them will be less.
- Celebrate with some Christmas cheer
The festive season is a time of joy – but not for used-car salespeople. Because we’re all spending money on food, booze and presents at this time of the year, used car sales see a significant slowdown through late November and into December. And the closer you can get to the actual three days of Christmas, the more discount you might be able to haggle on a used car. The absolute peak times to buy related to the festive period are those ‘dead days’ between St Stephen’s Day and New Year’s Day, when hardly anyone is buying cars (new or otherwise), and January is also a good month to plough into the second-hand market for a bargain, as people are still feeling the fiscal pinch in the wake of Christmas so used-car sales remain slow. Obviously, this tactic means you must be super-disciplined and put any money you’ve squirrelled away for a car purchase to one side, so you don’t accidentally spend it on 24 bottles of Prosecco instead…