It’s not just fruit and veg that are affected by annual buying trends. Used cars, too, come into season depending on their make and model. Consumers’ minds turn to different priorities, depending on the time of year. Getting the best second hand vehicle deals, therefore, relies on researching not just what to buy or sell, but when.
We’re coming into autumn, when people return to work after their summer holidays. Funds are low after holiday spending and the approach of Christmas keeps people’s spending habits in check. So the market is quieter for the retail sector.
However, sales don’t dry up altogether. Planning for harsher winter driving conditions means that sales of 4x4s usually rise in the autumn. Ex-fleet vehicles are also popular at this time of year, as companies traditionally part-exchange their stock at the end of summer. Smaller engine ex-fleet cars can be had for a bargain in autumn, as can cars coming off contract hire schemes. These can include the Renault Laguna, Peugeot 408, Mercedes E-class and BMW 5-series.
This can be the real bargain season for buyers, as many people like to change their car for the New Year and need to raise fund on their old one, fast. Winter is also halfway between registration plate changes, so dealers will often have excess stock to shift. Good deals can be had on pre-registered stock that dealers don’t want to take into the next calendar year, so the run up to Christmas could be a good time to look around.
As in autumn, 4x4s remain popular in winter as people aim to mitigate against potential heavy snowfall and ice. Land Rovers of any vintage are more sought-after in the winter, as are other economical alternatives, such as Suzuki Jeeps or Subarus. So this is a great time for 4×4 sellers to act.
Predictably, as soon as the warmer weather starts to appear, so does the public’s appetite for sportier cars and convertibles. Anyone with an open-top to sell will make the most money in early spring. Budget models such as the Renault Megane, VW Beetle, Ford Street Ka and Vauxhall Astra Twintop rise in value during the spring, while mid-range cars, such as the BMW Z4 and Honda S2000 must offer low mileage to enjoy the same seasonal rise in value.
Buyers would do well to look out for used models that are due to become subject to a stages replacement, e.g. three-door models that are being upgraded by five-door counterparts later in the year.
Many dealers concentrate more on servicing over the summer, as people’s time and money are often taken up by holidays and family breaks rather than buying new or used cars. Cabrios, supercars and classics still sell in summer, but heavier cars, such as SUVs, are less in demand as people don’t tend to think about snow in the summertime. Buyers looking to get ready for winter well in advance could therefore pick up a summer bargain before other people start to push the prices of 4x4s up closer to Christmas.
New registrations also take place in August, so dealers want to shift their old number plates quickly. This can be a good bargaining point if you are looking to buy a ‘newer’ second hand car and can negotiate.