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When is the best time to buy a car?

There are many things to consider when purchasing a car such as what model you want but other things like associated costs, additional features and determining the right time to buy a car will add to the confusion.

Many will try to get the timing right when they make their big purchase to maximise savings and get the best bang for their buck.

The most popular time in Australia is usually at the end of the financial year, but there are other times that you can consider if you feel ready to start the process of car hunting.

End of the financial year

In Australia, June marks the end of the financial year (EOFY) and is considered a great time to purchase a car.

Manufacturers and dealerships usually discount prices, offer competitive financing, and free car servicing to attract customers and hopefully hit their end-of-year targets and increase their profits.

This time of the year would be ideal to buy a car as you can negotiate with the salesperson. You might be able to get roadside assistance, free accessories like tinting and floor mats, or an extended warranty. Many business owners purchase vehicles during EOFY to maximise their tax return.

However, dealerships are just as savvy and know that many customers are looking to upgrade their cars in June. The deal during this period might not be as good compared to other sales throughout the year.

It’s worth considering when car manufacturers have their end of financial years. For example, Japanese car makers have their end of the financial year in March.

Be sure to check specific end-of-year periods for the brand you plan on purchasing to maximise savings during their sale periods.

End of the calendar year

Consider purchasing a car in December as dealerships are more motivated to sell builds that will become ‘last years’ models.

There are more bonuses from dealers in December like additional equipment and potentially cash bonuses as cars with the previous year’s build are harder to move into the New Year.

It’s worth noting that European, Japanese and South Korean car models spend roughly two to three months on a ship as they make their way to Australia. This means that the car you buy in December might have come off the production line in August or September.


The new year

Come January, you may find clearance sales of the previous year’s models at reduced prices. You’ll see dealers driven to sell ‘old’ models before February/March when they become less appealing to customers.

Every car in Australia carries a build plate and a compliance plate, which can be found in the engine bay. The build plate has the unique vehicle identification number (VIN) and the engine, transmission, and paint codes with the date of manufacture (month and date). The compliance plate confirms the VIN and has the month and year the car was certified as compliant with Australia Design Rules (ADS) and approved for sale.

For cars that have been imported and have travel times, the compliance date will be different from the date of manufacture.

Consider enquiring about the build date of the car you plan on purchasing, especially with the current delivery date delays.

End of the month

Dealerships and salespeople will oftentimes have end-of-month sales targets that need to be achieved, or even hitting a certain volume of sales to receive a bonus from the manufacturer.

For a customer, this means that there may be end-of-the-month sales to consider when purchasing a new car. It’s more likely that you’ll get surprising discounts and bonuses from dealers wanting to hit their monthly targets.


Model run-out

New car models will age after a few years and demand will decline too as new models arrive. Researching how long a model has been out on the market or how soon it might be updated, will put you in a great position to bargain.

If a car has been around for three to four years, it’s likely to be refreshed imminently. For models that have been around for over seven years, a new model should be expected. These two factors will be a good indicator of run-out sales as dealerships prepare for updated and new models.

When you have your budget

If you go into the dealership without considering a budget, there are costs and additional extras that will pile up without you realising. Factor in any additional upgrades you want be it tinting or extra safety features, on top of insurance costs and certain colours.

When armed with your budget, knowing what extras you want, and timing your trip to coincide with a sale, that day will be the best time for you to upgrade your car.

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