The new year is traditionally the motoring industry’s busiest time, with plenty of buyers in the market looking for a fresh set of wheels. But on the back of an expensive Christmas period, with bonuses dry and January’s month-end check taking ages to arrive, is the new year the best time to buy? Take a look at these timing alternatives from AutoTrader to help you bag the best deal.

  1. Buying new? December is the best time to buy

If possible, place your order for a new vehicle in December and take delivery in January. Essentially, this buys you a year of value. Used car buyers don’t typically take note of how early or late registration took place, but rather which year. Also, December is often a quiet selling period, meaning a better price is likely.

  1. Buying used? Look for new releases

Look for news on new model releases or updates for the new year. The new style of car will often result in the outgoing model being available at a cheaper price, or an influx of trade-ins making used car asking prices negotiable.

READ MORE: The low-down on buying a car on auction

  1. Be aware of dealers’ stock holdings

Very rarely do dealers cash fund their inventory. Most cars on the dealership floor are bank funded and carry interest charges. The longer stock remains on the floor, the more expensive it becomes to hold. Take note of which dealers are advertising more than one of your chosen make/model, as they will want to move their stock more quickly.

  1. Shop at the end of the month

No matter what time of the year, the end of the month has salespeople focused on hitting targets, and they are more likely to give you their best price. Other times to consider are on a Friday (when sales are likely to be quiet), or near the end of a quarter.

  1. Shop out of season

The first signs of summer will add to the asking price for convertibles, and similarly for motorcycles. Instead, look to buy these in winter. Also look out for seasonal specials such as Black Friday for great deals. Always be sure to take a close look at the T&Cs, however.

READ MORE: Residual payment finance: the good and the bad

  1. Watch lending rates

If you’re looking to finance your car, watch lending rates. If interest rates drop by 2% for example, it’s a good time to buy your car using the bank’s money. A 2% monthly saving adds up over a six-year loan period.

Last but certainly not least, you’ll want to check if the price you’re considering paying is really a deal.

“Search for your make and model on a site like AutoTrader,” advises George Mienie, AutoTrader CEO. “Use the price sorting function to identify the highest and lowest prices available. You’ll quickly get a sense of whether you’re buying a deal.”