You can’t put it off any longer. You need a new car, and soonish. A record 1.42 million new cars were sold in the UK in the first six months of 2016 so you are in good company. Whether you’re after your first set of wheels, the family just got bigger or your old car is falling to pieces, you’ll want to get the best deal you can on a new one.
So, isn’t August traditionally the time to bag a bargain new car just before the new number plates appear in September? Not necessarily – it depends on the type of car you are buying. We found a couple of industry insiders, one from a popular mass-market brand and one from a premium brand willing to let us into a few of their trade secrets. And it turns out, August is a pretty good time to be buying a new vehicle.
August is good for popular brand bargains
“Large dealerships like ours hold pre-registered stock either on their forecourts or in holding lots, and we’d prefer to move them on before the plate changes,” our insider explains. If you’re willing to buy a popular new car with an outgoing number plate, you can get a good deal in August. It’s worth bearing in mind that a new car bought at the very end of its registration period will appear older than it really is, and depreciate in value faster.
August seems less relevant for premium brands
As many premium brands are built to order, dealerships have fewer pre-registered cars in stock. Our insider explains: “There’s really no benefit to buying in August as our cars are not pre-registered. We don’t hold a large stock of cars with 61 number plates that have to be shifted cheaply in August before the 66 plates come out in September.”
So, when and how can you get a good deal on a new car, all year round?
If you’re up to haggling for the best bargain, our insiders advise that you may be better off approaching dealerships at the end of each quarter – March, June, September and December, rather than August. Sales teams need to reach, or exceed quarterly targets, so will consider reasonable offers. Don’t expect the moon on a stick though – because of margins, a salesperson may not have a mandate to give you thousands of pounds off, but you could get a decent discount.
Leave it until the last minute
By all means spend the month researching your car needs and gathering information, but leave your buying until the last day or two. As dealerships are quieter during the week, pop in on the last Friday of the quarter when the sales team will be able to give you more attention and could be more likely to offer a discount with their quarterly target on the horizon.
Depending on what you’re after, though, there are other good reasons to buy a car in August.
Cabriolet or 4x4?
The sun is (sometimes) out and soft-tops are popular, so it’s unlikely you’ll be able to strike a deal on a cabriolet in August. But if you’ve always fancied a 4x4, you might be able to negotiate a bargain - there’s less interest in 4x4s when it’s 29°C compared with six inches of snow on the ground. Conversely, wait for those six inches of snow in November before haggling for a drop top.
Keep it in the family
Depressing as it sounds, August is back-to-school preparation month. It can also be slightly less hectic than term-time, so it’s a good time to look at up-sizing the ‘Taxi of Mum and Dad’ ready for September’s onslaught of school runs, football practice, ballet lessons and expeditions. You might have older children off to college or university in September, itching to spend their vacation earnings on a new reliable runaround that doesn’t give you sleepless nights.
Take advantage of the holiday season
Most people are away on holiday so the dealerships are quieter and you’ll have more chance to chat to the sales teams and research different cars before you choose to buy. You may also have paid upfront for your summer holiday back in the spring, and it’s a while till Christmas, so your finances could be in a good place for a car purchase in August.
Don’t be too choosy
When spending a substantial amount of money on a new car, many people like to order a fancy bespoke model with their choice of metallic paint, parking cameras, alloy wheels and such like. These, unsurprisingly, come at an extra cost. However, both our insiders advise that “you’ll get a better deal if you can be flexible and prepared to take a model that’s already in stock rather than going for something bespoke” and we can’t say fairer than that.