RAC Cars News


March is a great time to buy a new car

By raccars Published

With new car registration plates arriving this month, March is always busy. Here's why.

It seems that buyers can't help being seduced by the novelty of a number plate change, with March and September usually the busiest months of the year for new car sales. The March plate change was introduced in 2001, with the plate change previously occurring just once every year on 1 September. This month '65' plates are replaced with new '16' plates and the booming UK market is expecting a bumper March.

Residual values are key

Even if the snob factor of driving a car with the newest plate passes you by, there are actually good reasons for buying this month, not the least of which is that the latest plates do have a measurable impact upon residual values when it comes to selling your car in a few years. If you are buying through some kind of finance scheme then those residual values will be even more important.

The best deals can usually be found on pre-registered models and run-out versions when new plates arrive as dealerships work to refresh their stock. But remember that, once again, this status could affect the selling price later on. The current competitive market means, however, that there are bargains to be had in all sorts of areas. If you are buying on finance, be particularly careful to study the small print on any contract. Make sure that you stick to mileage allowances and are able to keep up with payments. But with low interest rates, loans can be a cheap and easy way of buying the newest model cars.

Should you buy diesel?

Customers may be a little dubious about buying diesel at the moment but should bear in mind that the current low fuel prices - both petrol and diesel - are likely to experience some instability this year. The recent diesel emissions scandal is rumbling on, with the effect upon residual values arguable at this stage.

However one thing is certain, and that is that diesel emissions testing and regulations will only get stricter as a result of the controversy. If you want to buy a diesel car, now could be a good time to invest, before prices recover or are pushed up to compensate for new strictures. Diesel is still usually the most economical choice for those who do most of their driving on the motorway, and some drivers simply prefer diesel's driving dynamics.

However, despite all appearances, motoring is actually cheaper now than it's likely to get in the future, with low fuel prices and 75 per cent of new cars sold exempt from VED. Insurance costs are up somewhat thanks to a new tax on premiums but work to reduce fraudulent claims should help to counteract this.

Getting a good deal on a new car

Last year's best-selling models were a predictable bunch led by the Ford Fiesta, then followed by the Vauxhall Corsa, the Ford Focus, the Volkswagen Golf and the Nissan Qashqai.

However it's worth taking a look at brands for which 2015 was a little less successful. Alfa Romeo saw sales fall last year by more than 8 per cent, Suzuki, Bentley, Citroen and DS also saw sales decrease and Seat lost 11 per cent in 2015.

This means that good discounts should be available from dealerships keen to recoup some market share in 2016. And with interesting new models coming out this year you might be able to negotiate a deal, although you may have to wait until the September plate change in some cases.

Of course the rush of buyers investing in new cars automatically has a knock-on effect upon the used market, with used car buyers securing some fantastic deals in March and September too.

Looking to Buy?
Search for cars