New car registration numbers went from changing once a year to twice in 1999, partly to even out new car registrations throughout the year. Since then, the new number plates are introduced on 1 March and 1 September each year – the earlier plates will have two letters and then the number 18, while those on offer from September will have two letters and the number 68.
So should I buy straight after the number plate change?
Not necessarily, because most car dealers and their sales staff work to monthly and quarterly sales targets, so waiting until the end of March could help you bag a bargain.
It’s also worth keeping an eye out for Bank Holiday and other limited-time sales events when bigger discounts or incentives should be on offer.
If you’re not bothered about having a car with the latest plate on your drive, you could also consider snapping up a pre-registered car with a 67-plate – dealers are likely to be slashing prices on these to get them off the forecourt before the more desirable 18-platers arrive. Remember that if you do buy a car with the previous number plate it will be worth less when you sell it on, though.
When is the best time to get a great deal?
As well as opting for month and quarter-end and other special events, do some research into when car models you’re interested in are due to be updated or replaced. You’re likely to get a much better discount on a car that’s been on sale for a year or so, compared with one that’s only just arrived in showrooms. And don't forget, our new car buyer marketplace can get you a great deal all year round.
For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here