September 16, 2019 at 3:23 PM
When you're thinking of buying a brand new car, you may not be aware that the time of year and day in the week could affect the price you pay.
Although new car dealers have no control over the car's list price, they can offer discounts and additional incentives to get deals over the line.
Number Plate Changes
Since September 2001, the UK number plate system includes 'new plate releases' twice a year: March and September. This system was introduced to spread car sales more evenly throughout the year.
As a savvy new car buyer, you can take advantage of the hype surrounding the latest new plate by visiting your dealership in the preceding months (i.e. February and August) to get the current plate.
While you won't be driving around in a car with the newest plate, dealerships are more likely to offer discounts on new cars in the run-up to the change.
NOTE: If you plan to replace your car after a relatively short period of time (e.g. less than two years), then an older plate will affect its resale value. The longer you keep the car, the less impact the older plate will have.
Time Of Year
Typically, new car dealerships operate on a target-based sales model driven by the manufacturers. Consequently, sales staff have targets they need to hit every month and quarter to receive lucrative commission bonuses.
By leaving your dealership visit until later in the month, you're more likely to encounter a salesperson looking to make a sale to hit their quota.
NOTE: Don't forget about the plate changes that happen in March and September - both of which mark the end of quarters one and three respectively.
In addition, if a dealership or specific sales member has already met their target, they won't be under the same pressure to offer you a discount to make the sale.
Unlike retail stores, car dealerships are very quiet in the lead up to Christmas as people focus on spending their money on presents for family and friends, instead of large purchases for themselves.
However, this does present you with an opportunity if you're in the market for a new car. December is the end of Q4 (quarter 4), so it's the last chance for dealerships and their sales teams to make sales.
Moreover, due to the lack of people looking to buy a car, sales people and their managers are more likely to offer you a deal to boost their sales figures in a traditionally slow period.
Time Of The Week
As you might suspect, car dealerships are much busier on the weekend compared to during the week. If possible, it's always advisable to pay a dealership a visit before Friday afternoon where sales people will be vying for your attention rather than the other way around.
Although you may not necessarily get a better deal by going on a Wednesday instead of a Saturday, it's likely to be a much calmer environment to conduct business.
In addition, if you want to finance your new car, you'll have to speak to the dealership's business manager. Typically, there's only one on site, and they'll probably be less busy if you make an appointment during the week instead of the weekend.
Pay Attention To Model Releases
During your research, it's worthwhile noting down the last time the model(s) you're interested in had a 'facelift' and when the current generation was released.
Usually, manufacturers replace a model with a new generation every seven years and introduce a 'facelifted' version approximately half-way through its time on sale.
If a new version of a model is about to go on sale, then the outgoing version - known as run-out models - normally receives generous discounts from the dealership to try to sell them as quickly as possible before the new version arrives.
Depending on the time of year and demand, certain cars can become cheaper or more expensive. For example, convertibles are desirable in the summer, whereas 4x4s are more attractive when the weather is worse in the autumn and winter months.
If you're interested in a car affected by seasonal trends, you're more likely to get a good deal in the off-season - i.e. buy a convertible during winter when there's less demand. In contrast, models including city cars, family hatchbacks and saloons are less susceptible to seasonal fluctuation.