- The end of the month is a good time to bargain
- The end of the financial year is traditional car sales season
- The end of the year is also a great time to go car shopping
- Look out for run-out deals ahead of a new car model release
With our car loans guide, we'll show you the best times to buy a car from a dealer, including how to take advantage of the end of financial year car sales.
Top five times of year to buy a discounted car
- The end of the month – Dealers might be pushing to achieve a sales target or reach a certain volume that will earn them a bonus from the manufacturer near the end of the month (or the end of the quarter). If you time it right – more luck than good planning – it’s possible to buy a car discounted to the point at which the dealership is actually losing money on it, because by selling just a few more cars they will achieve a significant manufacturer bonus.
- The end of the financial year – New-car sales season hits in June, (except those makers that have different financial years – ie. Japan's fiscal year ends on March 31) driven by brands and dealers keen to hit their targets and boost financial year sales figures. Historically, monthly car sales volumes are up substantially during this period. This can be a great time to buy a car at a discount, or receive a bonus such as an extended warranty, roadside assistance or accessories such as window tinting, alloy wheels or floor mats. This time of year often works well for business buyers as they’re able to gain a tax advantage soon after claiming an expense.
- The end of the year – December can be a good time to buy a new car for an entirely different reason than the May/June sales season. Dealerships grow increasingly motivated to sell cars built that year, because they will soon become last-year’s model. That said, it’s unavoidable that many new cars sold in January were built the previous year. Given shipping lead times, buyers can’t realistically expect a current-year build in the initial weeks of the year. And, as a result, the plate clearance deals can get even better into the New Year.
- The New Year – It can pay to ride out the End of Year sales and buy your new car during the early-year plate clearance sales. By February, a car built the previous year will be offered among new cars built that year, but often at a discounted price.
- Model run-out – Knowing how long a model has been on sale or, even better, how soon a new or updated version is likely to arrive can put you in a strong position to negotiate. If a car has been around for three or four years, it's likely due for an update. If it's been around for six or seven, there could be an all-new model coming, both of which mark good times to bargain hard on a soon-to-be-superseded model.
On the other hand, the forthcoming model might have improvements or extra features, often without a price increase, so it might be the better deal. The arrival of the new version will also have the effect of increasing the depreciation of the old model; you might be getting a discount up front, but there will be a corresponding reduction in what your superseded model is worth as a used car too.
The flip side of scoring a run-out deal is that buying a newly-released model will usually give you very little room to negotiate. So, while there’s more than one good time to save money on a new car throughout the year, there is little doubt that the arrival of a new model is the time in which you’re least likely to get a bargain.