Asking the Question
Buying a new car can be tricky business. There are many things to take into account, including what kind of car is best for you and your lifestyle and if it will fit into your budget. However, it is also important to think about when you should buy a car as this can have a tremendous affect on the bottom line of the purchase.
With a little bit of patience and consideration, a car purchase can become a lot cheaper and easier too. The time of year, day of the week, and time of day – all of these things come together to give the buyer a bit of an edge in the market.
Check Your Calendar
There are several times during the year that are best to buy a car. The first and foremost of these would be the end of the financial year, and all the sales that come along with it. Each EOFY is a barrage of specials and savings as car companies attempt to entice the buyer’s dollar by reducing prices on cars and the accessories that come along with them.
EOFY can make a massive difference to the success or failure of a car dealership’s overall sale targets, hence why they cut prices and advertise heavily. This is great for the customer as prices are reduced and the market becomes much more competitive. This is the right time to slow down, compare the market, and see if the deals being offered suit the model of car you are after. If not, see if you can get a dealer to match a deal being offered by a competitor, such as finance or warranty offers that are on the table.
There are however two other times of year that are well worth considering when buying – around the end of the year the beginning of the new year, and in some cases these times are very much superior to the EOFYS that dominate the midyear. The end of the calendar year means that car dealers are trying to clear out current model-year stock, which becomes harder to sell with the New Year.
Cars can spend a surprisingly long time coming to Australia by boat – a European model could easily spend three months doing so. Japanese and Korean cars can still take over a month. This can mean an influx of excess towards the end of the year, as supply can be difficult to manage, due to the sheer amount of delay. Because a car with last year’s plates on it can be harder to shift out of a store, they often have incentives to try and get them out the door.
With the New Year comes new difficulties for car sellers. Every car in Australia has two plates located in the engine bay – a build plate and a compliance plate. A build plate contains the vehicle identification number and the year of manufacture by month and year. The compliance plate contains this information and when the car complied with Australian Design Rules (ADR) and was approved for sale.
Given that cars take time to travel to Australia, these two dates can be quite dramatically different. And a car with last year’s build plate is traditionally much harder to shift. The further the car moves into the New Year, the harder it will become to move it on, and the dealers will generally recognise that. A canny buyer, who finds out the build date of the vehicle they are looking at, can generally apply a bit more pressure to the price than others, so be sure to keep an eye out on the build year of the vehicle you are looking at – for no other reason than to be sure you are not buying a ‘brand new’ car that has been sitting in the showroom for a year, if nothing else.
Out With the Old, In With the New
A fantastic time to buy a car in particular isn’t one that has a defined time of year, but is during a model run out. When a new car is introduced, it often (but not always) comes with a rush of demand- people wanting the newest model and prepared to pay top dollar for it. This isn’t the time to be hunting for a bargain – demand is going to be running hot and people should not be expecting a discount along with it. But the patient buyer might yet be able to take advantage of the situation.
After initial demand has been met, sales slowdown, and cars start having model year upgrades. These are small but often quite attractive upgrades to the vehicle that might well be simply cosmetic, or involve mechanical upgrades to the engine or other systems of the vehicle.. And more often than not, these upgrades don’t come with an increase in pricing.
This is a double sided opportunity for the buyer. You can get upgrades at no extra cost, or negotiate a better buy price on older stock that lacks these little bonuses.. The dealer will be far more open to a price reduction with a clear demonstration of a need for such a price drop.
If you are especially patient, you can wait further. Inevitably, word will leak of a new model coming out of a current vehicle. When this happens, the outgoing model will be forced out the door, in order to make space for the new stock and the new demand. As long as you are confident in your decision with the older model, the new vehicle can drive down the price of your choice. Be confident in your purchase, and push for it firmly, and you should be able to get yourself a bargain.
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Know Your Salesperson
One of the most important factors to consider in purchasing a car is the ever present human element. Being that car sales always go through a salesperson in some way, a few little tricks to get the best deal out of them is also a matter of timing, which can be easily taken advantage of.
First, look to buy at the end of the month or the quarter. Sales people are judged on their performance and how well they reach their targets. Whether they have reached their targets for the month or not, they will either be more inclined to push for the sales to meet or to improve their existing figures. This gives the buyer a bit of a psychological edge over the salesperson, which you can make use of to drive the price down lower – a hungry or desperate salesperson can be your greatest ally in making the deal.
You can make this advantage even greater by shopping early in the week as well. While the weekends can often be a good time to buy, there is the danger of the salesperson being too busy. With an excess of customers, the salesperson cannot concentrate on the buyer, and this leaves the buyer with less time to wear them down. By shopping on a Monday or a Tuesday, you will be well-afforded plenty of time to negotiate the price downwards. That being said, weekends really should not be ignored.
The salespeople are generally more enthusiastic, and they always want a good weekend result. If the offer isn’t good enough at the beginning of the week, consider seeing what you can get at the end of it. Lastly, look at the time of day itself. If a salesperson hasn’t made a sale all day long, an offer made at the end of the day becomes ever more attractive. Not only that but the salesperson will inevitably want to be going home as well, so in order to tidy matters up and end the day smoothly and efficiently, a reasonable offer made late in the day is far more attractive than one made early in the morning.
The Time Is Now?
In the end, buying a car is very much a matter of picking when to fight your battles – choose the right time of year, of the month, the week and the day. Use the information you have and never feel you need to rush – a salesperson will always try to pressure you to buy quickly, but remember it is always your choice, and your money.
You owe it to yourself to spend your dollar in the smartest way possible, and by playing the market to your advantage with a little patience, you’ll be able to get the car you want for the price you want as well. Research, test drive, and be smart – and when the time is right, put all you know to use, to get exactly what you want. Good luck!