Every year, the months of March and September see bumper car sales in the UK, and as you can see from the graph below, they are the most popular months for new car sales by a considerable margin. Why? Well, it’s certainly no coincidence that these are the months when new number plates are released.
This year, we will see the introduction of the 19-plate on 1 March and the 69-plate on 1 September. These numbers are known as the ‘age identifier’, and they indicate when the car was registered. That makes it the most explicit indicator that you own a brand-new car.
But is it really worth waiting until March to buy your brand-new smart car, or would you be better served buying a vehicle before the new plates are released? Here’s a quick guide.
The impact on resale value
There are financial benefits associated with waiting for the new number plates to be released. Although a car sporting the latest registration plates will cost more, it will also hold its resale or trade-in value better than a car bought just a few days earlier on an older plate.
If you plan to replace your car within a relatively short period of time, perhaps just a few years, any saving you make by buying the car before the new plates are released could be cancelled out by the reduced resale value. The impact on the resale value reduces over time, so it’s worth trying to balance any up-front discount with the losses you may incur when buying an older plate.
Of course, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of driving out of the showroom in one of the newest cars on the road. A new plate is the most explicit signal to other road users that you are driving a brand new car and this alone is enough to keep some car buyers from changing until March and September.
Getting the best deal
If buying a new car for the best possible price is your priority, plate changeover months are still a great guide. In the months of February or August, just before the new registration plates are released, dealerships are likely to be able to offer discounts on cars with the outgoing age identifier. Furthermore, with many buyers waiting for the new number plates to be introduced, sales of new cars tend to fall so you can take advantage of this lull to secure a great deal.