Buying a Previous Year Car Model: Everything You Need to Know

Want to get a new car without breaking the bank to do it? You don’t have to haggle; all you need to do is buy the previous year’s car model. You’ll get tons of savings and all the luxuries of a brand new, top of the line vehicle to boot!

Not sure how to go about buying a previous year’s car model? No worries! Our guide shows you what you need to know about the process!

When to Buy

Pop quiz: When’s the best time to buy a new car? The answer to this question is more complicated than you might think.

Sources vary and argue about the best car purchase timing. However, most can agree that near the end of the year and the end of the model year are your prime buying seasons.

Why is this? Well, if you’re shopping for a car in, say, 2023, you’ll more than likely want a 2023 version of your vehicle. This means that, come December of 2023, car dealerships will have a ton of inventory whose value will drop like a rock if it’s not sold off ASAP.

Alternatively, if you come to the dealership right before the 2023 version of a vehicle releases, they’ll be itching to clear away their 2023 inventory to make room for the new cars. However, be cautious: if you visit when the dealership is incredibly busy, like during a holiday sale, you might not get the attention you need from the salespeople.

Research What’s Coming

If you’re going to buy a previous year model car, you’ll need to research what’s coming for the current model year. By doing so, you’ll get a more accurate picture of the differences in features, body, and trim between the two.

Often car year models come with minor tweaks, but sometimes, companies conduct a major revamp. If the car you want to purchase is one of those, then you’ll want to discuss a better deal with your sales rep.

Consider Your Needs

As with any automotive purchase, you should consider your needs before you sign on the dotted line. Examine what your current car doesn’t offer that your new car might. Are you expanding your family, or traveling more?

Do you need better gas mileage? Do you want to invest in the environment with eco-friendly cars? Consider these factors before you set out, and you’ll be happier with your purchase.

Make Sure It’s Not a Loaner

If you’re browsing the previous year’s car models and find one at a discount that seems too steep to be true, trust your gut. It probably isn’t. The car in question was likely used as a demo or loaner car.

What does this mean? Demo and loaner cars get lent to dealership customers while they’re having their cars repaired. As such, they’ll have much higher mileage and may have been registered before, reducing the amount of time you’ll benefit from the warranty.

If you’re worried, ask. Dealers are required by law to let you know if that vehicle’s been used for those purposes. If they try to bait-and-switch with a more expensive model, claiming the discounted one’s already sold, run, don’t walk away.

Suckers Pay Over Sticker Price

Look, sales reps have to make a living, and we’re not saying they’re all out to fleece you. But if your car salesman is charging you more than the listed sticker price for the vehicle, you’ll wind up overpaying. If you overpay for your vehicle, you’ll never get the full return on your investment.

Open Your Mind and Stay Flexible

One drawback to buying a previous year’s car model: You don’t have as much selection as you would with newer vehicles. There’s a reason these cars are the year’s leftovers. Maybe the colors or trims you’re browsing weren’t that popular, or they didn’t have the one must-have feature all-new car buyers wanted.

Still, even if you can’t get exactly what you want, if you go in with an open mind and some willingness to bend on desired features, you can get an amazing deal.

We should also take some time to note that buying a previous model year does not necessarily equal buying a used car, though there may be some overlap. If you want to browse some previous model year used vehicles, click here.

Buy for Keeps

Another drawback of buying a previous year’s car model is that you’re getting a vehicle that’s, for all intents and purposes, one-year-old at the time of purchase. Even if it’s new to you, resellers will go by the model year and not when you obtained it. This means that if you have to, for any reason, immediately turn around and sell the car again, you won’t get as much as you paid for it.

This is why it’s better to buy for the long term if you’re going to buy a car from the last model year. You’ll get much better value out of your purchase that way.

Buying a Previous Year’s Car Model: A Review

Let’s recap what we’ve learned about buying a previous year’s car model.

First, don’t go unprepared; research the features coming down the pipeline and decide what you need for your car. Second, don’t let dealers smooth-talk you into paying more than the car’s worth. Third, make sure you’re buying for keeps so you can get the best return on your investment.

If you keep all these factors in mind and buy the car when you fall in love with it, you won’t miss out on all the savings you can get when buying last year’s model.

If you liked this new/used car buying guide and want to read more articles like this one, check out our blog daily for the latest automotive news!