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When to buy a new car – make Christmas savings before the New Year

ByDave Stopher

Dec 19, 2021

Are you planning your next car purchase for the best deals? It’s pretty obvious that there are variations in supply and demand throughout the year, and if you get it right you can strike a deal that should give you a head start against depreciation. You can see the variation throughout the seasons – just check any used cars for sale listings and you’ll see what we mean.

There’s one time of year that is particularly predictable, though. Christmas and New Year means reduced traffic to showrooms, budgets focused elsewhere, and sales teams and dealers looking to move their stock against a backdrop of rain, dark evenings and cold. No casual browsing after work here; everyone wants to be home and warm – including the dealer!

What’s the best car to buy in winter?

Unsurprisingly, you’ll strike pretty good deals on convertibles in winter – who wants to take a test drive in the snow? It’s also a good opportunity to look for leaks and condensation which might not show up in summer. Many convertibles under £5,000 can drop as much as £1,000 after November; cars such as older MX-5s, BMW 3-series and Volkswagen Golf and New Beetle with fabric roofs can look particularly unappealing on the forecourt, yet are just as much fun when spring gets going just a few months later.

Popular family cars also drop a little, as overstock of some models and the endless task of valeting after snowy, muddy feet have taken another test drive gets a bit tedious. Look for less popular brands; if you were thinking Golf, try a SEAT Leon, a Mercedes A-Class hatchback? What about a Volvo V40 instead. Prices of used cars have risen in 2021, but they’re due to fall again and if you buy wisely now you won’t get caught up in the bubble around the most popular makes and models.

What about a new car?

This isn’t a good year for striking deals on new cars generally – supply shortages and new emissions regulations mean model ranges and availability have been affected, and that’s partly why the supply of used cars has fallen too. However, you may still find that dealers with stock on-hand and unsold are ready to strike a deal. These cars are potentially going to become better value in January and February, as new car buyers hold off for the new registration in March.

There’s more to a good deal than a cash saving, too. If you’re looking at a new car from stock, look at the available incentives and discounts, and get a valuation for your trade in from a site such as Motorway [https://motorway.co.uk/] – you may find a discount has been hidden in the form of a generous trade-in allowance. Lower interest rates may also be available.

Here are our top ten tips for timely car buying:

  • Buy a used convertible in winter
  • Buy a used off-roader in summer
  • Buy at the end of the quarter
  • Find discounts between Oct – Dec
  • Save £££ between Christmas & New Year
  • Buy on the last two days of the month
  • Buy a car on a Friday
  • Buy an old model when the new one launches
  • Buy an old model when the new facelift launches
  • Buy a previous-plate car when the new number plates are released

 

Look to buy ex-demo or pre-registered after the release of new plates. The previous-plate cars will be discounted with the arrival of the new ones, or there may be an excess of new stock, or a run-out model, that allows leverage for a good deal.

Any cars to avoid in winter?

Of course! Anyone who vaguely thinks about getting a 4×4 is more likely to do so during the snowy season (you could just get winter tyres), and private and trade sellers alike put the prices up and are less likely to haggle. It’s also not a great time of year to buy a classic, as getting on the ground to explore underneath the car, or taking a test drive in cold, miserable conditions means more opportunity to overlook details. We’d also avoid buying cars that are known to rust, such as Mazda MX-5s or Jaguar S and X-Types, at this time of year – the temptation to look less critically, and the salt-spray on the roads, means it could be a few months before you discover lurking problems.

These are definitely the cars to buy in summer, and take advantage of the dry weather to rustproof properly.

And the biggest tip?

The best time to buy a car is before you need to. Plan your next change as much as you can do so and you’ll have time to try different models, wait for more adverts to appear, and get familiar with several examples of a car before choosing one. It’s not always easy to do so, but if there’s a hint of a problem developing you don’t want to fix, an advisory on the MOT which isn’t a normal wear and tear item, or potential life changes such as starting a family, take time to think about what car you will need next. That way you should find something you won’t want to replace for a very long time.