Used car prices are rarely fixed and constantly fluctuating, leaving people wondering when the best time to buy a used car is.

Often, car dealerships will provide their own discounts to sell old stock and make space for incoming new arrivals. Naturally, there are specific times when you’re more likely to find these deals and find dealers more open to negotiations. So, when is the best time of the year to buy a used car?

In this article, we’ll answer that question and give you specific times to find the best deals on used vehicles. We’ll explain why that’s the case and give you some handy tips too.

If you’re currently interested in buying a car, read our comprehensive used car buying guide to avoid some common buying mistakes.

The Best time to buy a used car

There are lots of different times throughout the year. These coincide with the launch of new registration plates, the release of new models, manufacturer discounts, quarterly sales targets, and quieter periods for dealerships.

Just before new number plates are introduced – February and August

For used car buyers, right before new number plates are introduced is a great time to find deals. During these months, dealerships will try to shift older stock to make room for the large amount of part exchanges that they are expecting. That means in February and August, you’ll likely find discounts on used cars, as well as dealers who are more open to negotiations.

Immediately after new number plates are introduced – March and September

Following the release of new number plates in March and September, lots of car buyers part exchange their old car for a brand new one at franchised dealerships. The dealers will therefore have lots of part-exchanged cars on their forecourt. The benefit here is rather than there being lots of cheap used cars around, there will be lots of good quality part exchanges and more choice than at other times of the year.

New model launch discounts

Manufacturers are obviously aware of the increased car sales in March and September, following the introduction of new number plates. This means you’ll often see new model releases around then too.

And as new car models come in, dealers have to make room on the forecourt. That means older, outgoing models are often heavily discounted and incentivised to create space for the new car releases. If you don’t mind driving a vehicle that’s not the latest, do some research into the specific car you want to buy and see if it has an updated or facelifted model that’s soon to be on sale. If there is, you should be able to find a discount for that specific make and model.

Used car sale events

Manufacturers will often run used car sale events, with some providing finance deals, deposit contributions and extended warranties. If a manufacturer produces more cars than it can sell, they may also provide a discount for a limited time to help increase sales.

To take advantage of such car deals, you’ll need to do some research into the vehicle you’re looking to buy. Whether that’s an Audi A6, a BMW 5 Series, or a Mercedes-Benz E-Class, it’s a good plan to look at a selection of cars to find the best deals going.

End-of-quarter target discounts

Lots of dealerships have used car sales targets to meet every quarter. That means a higher chance of discounts in the final weeks of March, June, September, and December to increase sales to meet those targets. At the very least, if they’ve not hit their targets, they’ll be more favourable to Negotiate a Better Car Deal.

Shop during quiet periods

When dealerships have extended quiet periods, they often provide discounts to maintain sales. They can be more open to negotiating a car deal too. Naturally, such periods can be the best time to buy a used car. The quietest times are:

  • December, in particular, the weeks of Christmas. During this time, most consumers focus their money on the festivities, not buying a car, leading to quieter dealerships.
  • February and August are good times too. Why? Because lots of car buyers wait these months out, choosing to buy a new vehicle with new registration plates, which are released in March and September.

Another top tip:

If you can visit a dealership midweek when they’re quieter, you’ll likely have the salesperson’s undivided attention.

Photo by Anthony Shkraba from Pexels

Other tips on the best time to buy a car

For more info on all the ins and outs of purchasing a vehicle, check out our Car Buying Checklist and our How to Buy a Used Car guide. If you’re looking to sell or part-exchange a vehicle, we have an expert guide for you too: How to Sell Your Car. Now, here’s some additional tips on the best time to buy a used car.

1. Buying a car in winter and summer

Certain car types have the best deals in winter and summer. Convertibles are best bought in the winter, as they’ll be more expensive come spring and summer. Similarly, 4x4s are at their cheapest in summer, before the harsh winter weather drives up demand and prices.

2. End of quarter discounts on cars

As we’ve mentioned – but it’s worth mentioning again, as – the end of a quarter really is one of the best times to buy a car. If you can wait to the last weeks of March, June, September, and December, you should find various dealership discounts.

3. Buying a car in December

In December, dealerships tend to be a bit quieter, what with people spending for – and then recovering from – the Christmas period. To improve sales, you’ll often find car deals during these months.

4. Buying a car during the holidays

Holiday seasons bring sales events from car dealerships and manufacturers. Naturally, these are great times to buy a car. Boxing day and New Year sales are particularly noteworthy for excellent deals. It’s worth checking for deals on Easter Monday too.

5. Black Friday and bank holiday sales

Similar to the above, dealerships might also run bank holiday sales. And Black Friday events are becoming increasingly popular as well.

6. Sign up to newsletters

If you want to keep on top of when dealerships are offering sales, consider signing up to the dealer’s newsletter. Whilst you’ll certainly get an influx of emails from them, you’ll also be up-to-date on their latest offers.

Also, keep on top of the market in general to see what’s available at what price. If you register with us at, you can create a shortlist of vehicles and receive email alerts for any newly listed cars that meet your criteria – keeping you in the know to help you find the best deals going.

Whilst there’s no single “best time to buy a car,” there are various dates where you’re more likely to find better discounts and dealers that are more open to negotiations. These include the final week at the end of a quarter, the months before and after new registration plates are launched, and when new models are released.

Bank holidays, the holiday seasons, and Black Friday are also excellent times to find deals on used cars. Dealerships tend to offer discounts when sales are quiet as well, so look to December and January for further price reductions.


Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels


No matter the time of year, buy and sell your vehicle with MOTORS. We make finding the right car simple.