When to Buy a Car

Whether you’re looking to buy a brand new or used car, your timing can make a difference of hundreds of pounds to the eventual asking price. Keep our timing strategies in mind when you begin your search and you can look forward to making a significant saving.

When to buy a car

Best times to buy

The run-up to Christmas: This is a great time to approach dealerships and private sellers because both are incentivised to sell. Dealership salespersons are looking to hit their end of year targets and private sellers are often keen to secure extra cash to help cover the cost of Christmas. In both cases, this presents you with a strong negotiating position.

Remember though, the winter months may offer the best chance of a discounted sale price but dealership inventories will be more limited as they clear this year’s stock. Prepare to be flexible with your choice of model.

March and September: According to the laws of supply and demand, it’s best to buy a used car when there are a lot of them on the market. Dealerships are flooded with used cars in September and March, immediately after the plate change, when lots of new-car buyers part-exchange their previous car. This increased supply usually results in lower prices both at the dealership and among private sellers who have to remain competitive.

The end of the month: Again, this timing strategy works for both dealerships and private sellers. Dealerships are aiming to hit their sales targets while private sellers may be looking for a quick sale to take care of imminent bills and payments scheduled for the beginning of the following month.

Early in the week: Weekends give more people the chance to search for their next car online or at the forecourt. This presents sellers with more customers and more potential offers. Online searches are traditionally the most popular day of the week for car buyers scouting the classifieds in readiness for weekend viewings. If you can manage it, try to time your search for a Monday or Tuesday when competition will be lower and you’ll command the seller’s attention.

Worst times to buy

Springtime: Statistically-speaking, spring is the worst time to consider buying a car. A new year means a fresh start and as such, more people are inclined to make a positive change to their daily circumstances by buying a new car. Furthermore, the most expensive time of the year has passed and people have more money at their disposal. With more buyers competing for cars, prices will be higher while fewer deals will be on offer. So if you’re keen to make a purchase after Christmas, it may be better to wait a few months.

Having said this, early January can sometimes prove to be a good time to make an offer, as the market is still quiet and the cost of Christmas hasn’t quite been absorbed yet; buyer numbers are low but the issue of limited stock will still persist.

Timings to consider for specific car models

While there are universally good or bad times to buy a car, certain times favour certain models. For example, spring routinely sees the price of convertibles shoot up by hundreds if not thousands of pounds, as the improving weather encourages thoughts of driving with the top down! Therefore, it’s wise to make your search for a convertible in the darker, rainier months of autumn and winter.

Following the “buy your coat in summer and your shorts in winter” timing strategy, any 4×4 is best bought in the summer, since demand is at its highest during the winter.

Concerned about car depreciation? Read how to get the best deals and snag a bargain.

Latest advice articles

Latest best of articles