Selling cars – it’s all about timing

Seasonal cars

Many types of cars will be, what we refer to in the trade as seasonal in that they always sell better at certain times of the year, and by “better” we of course mean quicker and for more money!

Naturally cabriolets will be a classic example of this. The basics are really quite simple; when the weather hots up a bit everyone likes the idea of driving around with the top down, and sales of cabs rise accordingly. Subsequently they then become harder to find and the simple rules of supply and demand mean that the price goes up. Come the winter the perception, believe it or not, is still one of cold winter mornings in a rattling leaky convertible, even though modern cabs with the hood up are just as good as standard saloons. Inevitably as a consequence there are many more on the market and the prices fall again.

There are two clear lessons here; firstly if you fancy being a trader do as people do in the stock market by buying low and selling high (otherwise known as the glittering pathway to profit) and secondly if you own a cab, however hard it may be, sell it in the warmer months.

Another case in point is four wheel drive vehicles which always sell better in the winter months. A closer inspection of Land Rover sales during a harsh weather will bear testament to this (BBC – Big rise in Land Rover sales).

MPV’s also sell very well in the spring and summer months and have done well recently because of, believe it or not, the recession. Many people it seems have either purchased a used MPV to holiday in the UK rather than jetting off aboard or have alternatively, in an economy drive, consolidated two family vehicles into one 7 seat MPV


hmColours that are not “in-vogue” and non-metallic colours can be more difficult to sell than more popular colours and you have to adjust the price of your car accordingly to compete. Traditionally metallic blue, red and silver are the most popular colours whilst yellow statistically is the least popular. But car colours are fashionable in nature and what was popular say 5 years ago may not be now. Who would have thought that the beige colour “harvest moon” (see picture on right) would be the most sought after when it comes to used VW Beetle cabs? What about the resurgence of white? Seen as the “standard” colour for many years and avoided like the plague it is now THE colour to have for your sporty hatchback or coupe. Believe it or not cars with a metallic finish are said to be worth considerably more than non metallic models after one year. Apparently, according to a number of industry surveys, black is the most “impressive” colour for a car. Nearly half the respondents in a survey by Auto Trader thought having a black car would impress their neighbours, as it looks “more expensive”. To get a feel for what colours are selling and whether your car has one of them try and do some comparisons online on similar used examples. You will be able to tell the sought after colours by the price differential between models that are identical in spec with similar mileages.

So when is the best time to sell?

The time of year you sell a car is also quite important which leads us on to the question; when is the best time to sell? As we mentioned above the type of car you own may very well dictate the best time of year to sell but this may not be particularly realistic as you probably won’t have the luxury of holding on too long. That said, in the trade there is a distinct pattern to used car sales throughout the year so a quick glance at the following calendar may assist you in making a decision on when to go to market with your car.


Simply put if the month is coloured red it means there are more buyers about.

Of course this is a pattern which has been witnessed in the motor trade for many years, but as new models come to market their popularity is often based on the fact that they may be a new and exciting or innovative model. These new models with limited initial supply may be fashionable for a while and then fade away thus skewing the normal seasonal buying behaviour.

Although car dealers do not stick rigidly to selling patterns, it is always worth being aware of the normal market conditions at the time you come to sell your car and what category it falls into.

Subscribe to Motor Trade Insider by Email


Comments are closed.

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes