When’s the best time to buy a used car in Australia?

Amy Bairstow
Amy Bairstow
When’s the best time to buy a used car in Australia?

Is there a specific time of year to find a great deal on a used car? June? Christmas? A random hump day in October?

While there’s no single point to mark down in the calendar, there are definitely some key times when bargains can abound. We sat down with Carma’s car market specialist, Peter Willis, to find out when it could be time to search for that dream car.

Why both markets matter when buying a car second-hand

Second-hand cars are in a market of their own in terms of supply and demand - but their prices are also shaped by what’s happening in the new car market. So if you set out to find a great price on a pre-owned car model, it’s worth watching the new equivalent too.

With that in mind, here are some of the key times of the year to look out for.

The end of the financial year

Peter explains that the end of the financial year can give a boost to the availability of second-hand cars. That’s because new car dealers are pushing sales around this time. “Normally for EOFY, you get this mad rush to the end of June 30 where dealers are trying to clear stock.”

As people trade in and sell their existing drives to take advantage of those EOFY offers, that means a greater supply of second-hand stock. And the result is often sweeter prices for second-hand car buyers.

Good to know:

Country-specific EOFYs matter when you’re looking for the best month to buy a car! 31 March marks the end of the financial year in Japan, so you could see more second-hand stock free up and better prices for Japanese brands like Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi and Mazda around this time.

New model roll-outs

If you’ve got your eye on a specific pre-owned make and model, pay attention to when the latest model is about to be released. Here’s Pete to explain: “When new models come out, there’s going to be a rush of previous models available on the market as people are selling to get the new models. This increase in supply is an opportunity to buy, because there’s so much competition among sellers trying to roll into a new model. This turns it into a buyer’s market and not a seller’s one.” Put simply, the best time to buy a used car could be while everyone is buying its new equivalent.

Good to know:

Cars tend to get design refreshes every three or four years, while all-new models are typically released every seven years.

The quiet months of July to September

Used car prices can be lower in the quieter and cosier months between July and September. As sales drop off at this time of year, there’s less buyer demand and prices will often adjust accordingly. As Peter says, “there’s this lag period at the start of July where there's normally a lot of cars around, so there might be some incentives around then.” In other words, the time when no one is buying could potentially be the best time of year to buy a car.

Good to know:

Demand tends to stay pretty consistent year-round for the most popular models, like the Ford Ranger, Toyota HiLux and Hyundai i30. So you might not see big price variations on the really in-demand vehicles.

Explore popular models

And are there times to avoid buying a used car?

If there are any times when demand and prices tend to go up, it can be in the lead-up to the holidays. That’s because everyone’s busy making plans and assessing whether their current car meets their current needs. Maybe there aren’t enough seats for all the kids and the dog anymore, or perhaps towing needs have changed. These factors can increase buyer demand and drive prices up.

As Peter says, “that’s actually pushing the market where everyone is looking at cars and if you've got a popular make or model that you're looking for, all of a sudden, you’ve got a diminished supply on that car and the prices will start to steepen.”

So if you’re looking for a deal, it pays to stay one step ahead of the holiday planners!

Finding a great deal on a pre-owned car in Sydney

Ultimately, if you find a great car at a great price, you’ll want to snap it up. Carma might just be the best way to buy a used car right now, and in fact at any time of the year. We rigorously source, inspect and recondition the best pre-owned cars and carefully price them competitively in the current market. There’s full cost transparency, and no haggling involved. What does that mean? You can search cars online at any time, and find your new ride at a price you know is great.

Get the best car news delivered straight to your inbox