The first day of March will see status-conscious drivers across the country making a dash for cars with shiny new 14 plates.
But if you’re thinking of getting in on the action, think twice. You may be able to get your hands on a new (or nearly new) car for much less money...
Timing is everything
March is big-game season for car dealers. The forecourts will be teeming with wide-eyed punters desperate to get one over on their neighbours or colleagues by picking up a car sporting a spanking new registration plate… And the dealers will be licking their chops at the prospect.
But by waiting until the salesmen are anxiously looking at their targets and wondering where their next bonus is going to come from, you could stand to save a a significant amount of money.
Covered mag's resident reformed car salesman, Chris Pollitt reckons: "Walk into a dealership on the last weekend (or better yet, the last day) of the month and salesmen will fall over backwards to do you a deal. Walk in at the end of a quarter, though, and you’ll be treated like royalty. You will almost certainly be offered all manner of discounts, but please don’t snort in derision when the salesman tells you they only apply if the car is registered that month. He’s not lying."
Got a new car in mind? Not hugely bothered about the colour or specification? Then a pre-reg bargain might be just the ticket.
A pre-registered car is, in essence, a brand new car. Most of the time, they have been registered by a dealer themselves to make their numbers look better and to keep the orders coming in from manufacturers.
The cars will have been sitting safely on the forecourt with just the delivery mileage on the clock. The only real down sides are that the car’s warranty will already have started ticking down, and it won’t have a brand-new 14 plate. But with potentially big savings - we've heard reports of buyers saving as much as £7,500 on a next-to-new car - who cares?
Think about a broker (but be wary)
Car brokers have relationships with dealer networks and act like fixers. They help customers find cars for knock-down prices and assist dealers with shifting stock.
They can usually track down a car you’re after, even if it might not be to exact specification. The biggest savings are usually for customers shopping at the top end of the market.
Bear in mind a car which a broker has identified for you might not have full warranty if it has been pre-registered. You probably won’t be able to part-exchange your existing car either.
A thorough investigation of a broker's reputation won't go amiss - it's not too difficult to unearth broker horror stories, so do your research before agreeing to a sale.
Go for a nearly new car
The AA reckons new cars lose as much as 40% of their value in the first year of ownership, so why not let someone else take the hit on your behalf?
There will be no shortage of year-old bargains on the forecourts as status-conscious motorists trade in their perfectly fine cars for something with a flashy plate. Bear in mind that you may not be able to recoup quite so much when you come to sell the car on...
Whether you choose to buy nearly new or go for a 14 plate, make sure you've shopped around for your car insurance to get the best deal possible.