62 reg plates are here, but should you care?

A row of cars, possibly at a car dealership or maybe just a large outdoor car park
"How on earth am I going to shift this lot?" thought Darren the car salesman
"BY WAITING UNTIL DEALERS ARE FALLING OVER THEMSELVES TO SHIFT STOCK, YOU COULD SAVE YOURSELF A SMALL FORTUNE"
  • | by Kristian Dando

It's a brand new registration year, which means that status-conscious motorists across the country will be looking to be shell out on a car with a '62' plate in an attempt to impress neighbours, colleagues and relatives who they aren't fond of.

Well, more fool them.  If you're not utterly obsessed with keeping up with those confounded Joneses (and why would you? They're insufferable snobs) then it's possible to save potentially thousands on a new (or nearly new) set of wheels.

WAIT A BIT

September is traditionally one of the busiest times to buy a new car, thanks in part to the allure of a brand new registration plate and all those people who'll happily pay through the nose to drive about with a self-satisfied look on the face because of a simple number.
 
But by waiting until a time when car dealers are falling over themselves to shift stock and get some figures on the board, you could save a small fortune - about 10-12% in some cases. December is a prime month to go bargain hunting, and don't forget that new car registrations are still sluggish after the winding down of the new car scrappage scheme - those dealers have targets to hit, so use this to your favour and drive a hard bargain.

GO FOR BROKE

New car brokers act like 'fixers' who have a large network of dealers they're in contact with. Those dealers take bulk orders of cars, or vehicles which have been returned - and these need shifting. You may not get the exact colour you want, or indeed the exact model, but you may find a car for significantly below the list price. And if you're well-heeled enough to be shopping in the high end of the market then the old adage of 'the bigger they are, the harder they fall' rings true - potential luxury car buyers could save enough to buy themselves a well-specced supermini to go down the shops with.

BUY PRE-REGISTERED

This way you can get a new-car experience for old-registration plate prices. Or something like that. And again, this one is down to the dealers needing to hit targets. Can you see a pattern emerging yet?

Pre-reg cars are new cars which have already had one owner - usually the dealers themselves, or fleet managers or even the manufacturers. This makes it looks as if they're selling more cars than they actually are, and it also means that they can keep the manufacturer on side by keeping the orders coming in. They should have exceptionally low mileages (usually just the delivery, plus maybe a bit more if they've been used as demo cars).

The thing is, if the car has a warranty, it will have commenced from the day it was registered, rather than when you pick it up, so it may well have been exposed to the elements for a year before you take it away. And you may not get quite as good a price when you come to sell your car on, as it will have had more than one owner…

BUY NEARLY NEW

Cars notoriously depreciate the fastest during the first year of ownership, so why not let somebody else take the hit for you? There'll be no shortage of '61' plates on the market as folk with more money than sense trade their cars in for something with a newer registration plate.  Bear in mind that you may not get quite as nice a price when you come to sell it on, though...