Top car deals this summer

  • August and September can be good timing for deals
  • Plate change in September means potential discounts
  • We round up some of the best offers of the moment

For once it’s a scorching summer in Britain and what better way to celebrate than with a new set of wheels?

Summertime is traditionally a good time to buy a car as with new registration plates introduced in September dealerships often need to clear stock with old plates. As a result, August can be prime shopping time to net a tidy discount.

Timing is everything

Likewise, there is sometimes an excess of new stock when the latest plates do arrive, so there can still be bargains to be had in September. Another reason hanging on until September might not be a bad idea is that at the end of a quarter dealers are keen to complete sales to achieve targets.

Try and visit a dealership on a weekday rather than the weekend if you can – they’ll be quieter. What’s more, if you visit in the last day or two of a month dealers may work harder to complete a sale.

Good time to buy 4x4s, bad time to buy convertibles

Those hoary old sayings about summer being a good time to pick up an off-roader or 4x4 at a knock-down price still ring true – four-wheel-drive cars generally command a higher price when the weather’s bad. By the same token, if you fancy a convertible you’d be best off to wait until winter if you want to save money – prices are at their peak when the weather’s sunny.

Another positive effect of summer weather means there’s plenty of daylight until late, so it gives you more time to inspect and test-drive cars properly after work.

Top summer offers

There are a few cracking deals around at the moment. Here are a few Parkers picks of the best summer offers:

  • Ford is offering an August test drive promotion. If you test drive any vehicle with the company’s clever 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine by 24th August you qualify for a £500 saving on any new Ford car (excluding the Ka). Click here for the details.
  • Volkswagen is offering up to £2,000 off all Beetle models, including the Cabriolet – so you might be able to pick up a good deal on a convertible in summer after all. Click here for more info.
  • Sticking with VW, now could be a good time to save money on a Passat, too. There’s an all-new model just around the corner, so Volkswagen dealerships could be keen to shift outgoing cars.
  • Vauxhall is offering a year’s free insurance (if you’re aged between 21 and 75 – if you’re aged 18 to 20 it’s a year’s insurance for £99) if you buy a Corsa Excite or a Corsa Limited Edition on finance. For the Excite it’s a £189 deposit and the same amount every month for 35 months, while for the Limited Edition it’s £199 over the same format. Like the Passat, there’s an updated Corsa to be released shortly, so if you don’t mind driving a model that’s about to become out of date there are some good deals to be found.
  • With the Peugeot 107 in the process of being replaced by the 108, you can pick up a brand-new one for very little outlay. Dealer Pentagon is offering a new three-door Active model for £6,795, a £2,550 saving on the list price. Find other similar offers in our new cars deal section.
  • Kia dealer Ryedale is offering £1,175 off the list price of a 1.0-litre Kia Picanto 2 hatchback, taking the price down to £8,670. Click here for more.

Next steps:

Check out our Car reviews section to help work out which car is right for you and use the Parkers Valuations section to get an accurate guide as to how much it’s worth.

Have a look at potential bargains in our Cars for sale section and use our Car Comparison Tool to work out how much different models are likely to cost you to run.

As always, take your time and take a test drive – never, ever buy a car without driving it first. If you have a group of cars to pick from, try and drive them back to back or as close together as possible to help you compare them directly.

If there are items you’re likely to carry regularly, like a pushchair or golf clubs, bring them along to check they fit. Likewise, bring the family along too – it’s important that they like the car as well.

Pick your spec carefully. Make a list of items you wouldn’t want to be without, whether it’s Bluetooth, cruise control or parking sensors and find out if they come with the trim you’re looking at or whether you’ll need to spec them as optional extras.

And above all, if in doubt walk away – there are plenty of other cars out there.

Need help choosing? Maybe these articles can help:

Top 10 people carriers

Top five city cars

Ten great family cars

The cheapest new cars to insure in 2014

Top ten cars for under £20,000