When Is The Best Time to Buy a Second Hand Car?

My partner and are thinking about upgrading our car, for a more modern, safe, bigger, family friendly car.

We're in no immediate rush, and I've been looking on carsales/gumtree/marketplace at some good deals but is there any science as to when they are cheaper.

For example: Do people sell their old cars after getting new ones as Christmas presents? Is EOFY the best time because that's when people upgrade?


  • The best time is when you are not desparate to buy one. This will allow you to be able to not fall for car salesperson tricks and emotional nudges, or fall into quick commitments with cars you see on carsales. Pick out exactly what you want in your new car and keep searching, with no obligation to offer or accept offers.

    In terms of the calendar year - I don’t think there’s any trend for when prices drop low.

    Good luck :)

    • Great advice. Thanks :D

    • perfect answer. Agree %100

    • This. Buying/selling cars is 100% down to the individual circumstances and has very little to do with the market or time of year.

      Someone could be randomly selling their car for $15k below market value because they desperately need cash or are moving overseas. You never know. It's always a good time to hunt.

  • What lucky pricks get cars for Christmas?!

    • +10 votes

      Last two (used) cars I owned were registered around Christmas. One on the 24th Dec and the other on the 27th. The whole time I was thinking… "Who the (fropanity) wants a rego, CTP and insurance all due at this time of year!"

      I currently have two (bought used) motorcycles that are 9th Dec and 18th Dec. Obvious Christmas presents at the time…


        What are your two bikes, pegaxs?

        • Those two are a Vespa Sprint 150 and a Super Soco CUx. Both even fit the mould of being christmas presents… :D

          • +6 votes

            @pegaxs: Motorcycle is a strong word for those vehicles ;) Though very cool, I'd love to get my partner onto a vespa at some point. How's the electric scoot?

            • +12 votes

              @DisabledUser220804: The electric scooter is woeful. 55km/h top speed and 30km range. But it is covered in Ducati decals so it rubs Ducati owners up the wrong way when I take it to the cafe on Saturday mornings (It is an "officially licensed product")

              I also get to get my smug on and say stupid shit like "You'll all be riding electric in 2025" or "LOL… ICE is DEAD!" or "Have you considered taking Elon in as your lord and saviour?"


                @pegaxs: Hahaha excellent. That is sick.

              • @pegaxs: holy smokes… my skateboard does 50km/h, does it actually have to be registered? At 55km/h it shouldn't be considered a road vehicle imo

                I guess on the downside my skateboard doesn't troll ducati owners, just those middle aged cyclists wearing those full pro-cyclist cosplay outfits

                • @shoyushu: Yes, registered. Has to be. It's only marginally faster than my Xiaomi m365 scooter, which is funny. I think it is designed with European cities in mind. A lot of European cities have much lower speed limits of around 30mph (48km/h) than our 60km/h, that and battery storage on a scooter is very limited, so if they made it go any faster, the battery range would be even worse.

                  In town, where all the speed limits are 50km/h, it is fine, but between where I live and urban driving, there is a 2km section of 60km/h road, and let me tell you, I get tooted, a lot (even though it's only 5km/h under the limit).

                  If you lived 10km away from work and ride through peak hour traffic in 50km/h zones, I would totally recommend this scooter. If you lived further or the roads you had to go on were 60km/h or above… it's not for you.

      • i bought a new car many moons ago and it was delivered around Christmas time.. so every year for Christmas i had insurance and rego due

        • same here but then i got a house around the same so call cost of that come at same time too. Christmas is 6000 month in bills

      • I purchased my last car in the beginning of July and they gave me 6 months rego included which made it due at the start of January. I paid 6 months to move it back to the start of the July

        • We had two cars due in January. They both got 6month rego to put them into July away from Christmas time and holiday spending - but put them next to caravan rego. Oh well.

    • An apprentice at work used to like to rant about male privilege, her dad bought her a brand new Mazda for Christmas a few years ago…

    • Merry Christmas! I paid the first month's finance for you!

    • Stupidly rich ones :P

    • Came to ask the same question.

      Maybe they know someone in Aus post.

  • +6 votes

    When the car is more than 10 years old

  • When Is The Best Time to Buy a Second Hand Car?

    Before you need it.

  • +10 votes

    Not now.
    Used Car prices are at all time highs.
    Wait until the supply of new cars is back to normal and therefore people are trading in/selling their old cars again.

    • How can I determine that though? By just checking my usual search criteria until they start dropping, or do you know of a more expert solution?

      • Keep up to speed with marketplace/gumtree prices, it's taken Perth approx 5 months post covid to get to somewhat reasonable prices again. People are still trading in cars, there's just been a delay in getting new cars in which i feel had backlogged the system.

        For us it'll be probably jan/feb until we're back to normal (pricing wise). What that means for Victoria/NSW is that it won't be until May/June until you see a return to pre-covid prices.

      • higher company are not on selling stock in used market at moment Gov still are selling used into the market.

      • Economy recovers and demand for new cars increase. People now are highly conservative. But how much a benefit will you get maybe 2k on lower end market.

  • Honestly with COVID its purely a sellers market. Prices are up across the board by up to 30% in desirable car classes (think Landcruiser's & Hilux), but have sustained increases across the board. If you can wait for the COVID tax on cars to end (I'd suspect sometime next year when new car sales & imports increase) you can hopefully get a decent deal.

    With regards to timing, I'm no expert but I'd call Feb-March and June-July to be ideal used car buying periods.
    Correlating to your highlighted periods, most people tend to upgrade before Christmas as that's when they head on Annual/Longer road trips. Whilst people might be buying new cars and trading-in/selling their used ones (leading to supply surges), I'd argue there's a larger market of people buying a 'new' used car, or otherwise selling their used cars for slightly "less-used" newer cars, which would reflect greater demand-side push.
    Without COVID, I'd suspect Nov to be a decent time to buy too, as there usually wouldn't be too much market demand, and those planning a new car purchase before Xmas (and and want better trade-in values) would be selling their cars privately. Otherwise, I'd pick Feb-March as an ideal period as demand would be subdued and those who hadn't sold their car before Xmas or otherwise no longer have a need for one would be selling up.

    For the latter period (June-July), I think you already know with EOFY and people upgrading to new cars for discounts/tax-incentives, there'd surely be a rush of used cars on the market with most buyer's at that point looking at new ones anyways.

    just my 2c.

    • Wow, thanks for that! What you've said makes a lot of sense.

      I was kinda thinking that time too for financial purposes, so I'll keep all that in mind.


    • think Landcruiser's & Hilux

      That is thanks to the government homemaker grant. Vehicles of choice for trades people.

    • Covid tax is starting to drop on used cars as the borders are starting to open and we are getting to covid normal.
      Once the job keeper/seeker payment stops in March next year, all the cashed up Super recipients have exhausted their spending on used cars, banks claw back their deferral payments, new car exports come in, then the prices will plummet.
      I'll predict this starting from May next year.

      • You bring up many valid points, i.e. the $20k Super recipients splurging their cash and new car imports coming in soon, and I do believe that the COVID tax is decreasing, but I'd have to respectfully disagree with yours & the general public perception is that Job Keeper/seeker payments and Bank deferrals are allowing people to have excess funds and thus jacking up car prices.

        This excessive spending is really originating from the broader population who have held their jobs through the crisis (working in more stable industry), and have through WFH and decreased social lives noticed a dramatically improved cash flow and thus have increased savings that they wish to spend. With the fact that holidays are out of the question and with housing industry being relatively uncertain, many individuals are parking their money in the 2nd largest asset they have as a form of pleasure.

        Job Seeker/Keeper payments have largely been withdrawn and those who were/are receiving it were never likely to spend big, as this was a means to get by (currently 80+% of payments are to VIC recipients) and likewise a majority of households have restarted mortgage repayments and an extremely small % are in mortgage distress (its in their best interests as, loan interest is constantly charged throughout the deferral period).

        With WFH remaining and becoming a norm and international travel remaining limited, I don't expect these spending habits to decrease too soon, but as you said, as the initial hype subsides and imports increase I see prices falling but much more gradually (let alone plummet) and I wouldn't expect them to go to pre-COVID levels for some time, or at least until travel opens up.

        source: Big 4 Bank data (I work at one)

        • I appreciate your feedback.
          However if WFH becomes the norm, then many people wont require to upgrade their cars as they don't need to travel to work right?
          How about the people that are getting more money from the Job Keeper/Seeker than they did before covid?
          So, basically the government needs to claw back their payments. So how are they going to do that if they (for one example) cannot fine as many people for speeding & toll roads? Jack up GST & other taxes.
          I think when the Banks claw back their money; it doesn't matter if you can't, they will squeeze every drop from you, sell your house underneath you. So what will Mr A Citizen do to cash liquidity, what is one asset that can sell rather quick, their car.
          In my view, it will be a reverse effect next year and a market correction or even negative growth; hence plummet.

          Edit: To get the bank deferral program, I believe you have to apply for financial hardship right?
          If that is the case then your credit rating will flag and good luck borrowing again for a while.


  • If Christmas is the time people buy new cars then they would have sold their car the month before.

    ….Think about it.

    • If you sold your car before getting a new one, you'd have no car to use.

      • Exactly right. And the people who have the money to buy cars as Xmas presents, don't need the money from the sale of the old car :D

  • Not during Pandemic

    used prices are silly now, dealer is actually a better deal with some wheel'n and deal'n

  • Prices are crazy im not sure if its due to lack of new stock coming in or everyone is going f**k it if i cant go on a holiday im buying a car or if people are cashing in there super for cars (which could be 40K for a couple)

    • Yeah especially because I'm in the market for med-large size SUV!

      The in laws were looking to upgrade their caravan, and (profanity) their prices have flown.

    • People are scared of taking public transport therefore go and buy cars. Obviously 2nd hand would save money. Considering the amount of new cars purchases in the past have be consistent then suddenly doubling of second hand demand would push prices up.

      Can't put it beyond people taking out super for cars. Articles about people taking out super for a leg up on a house deposit then finding out banks won't touch them.

  • When the pandemic is over people will be abandoning cars at airport parking lots. Can't afford a car and an international holiday.

    • Wouldn't they sell the car for holiday spending money?

      • Too many cars not enough buyers.

        Anyways it was a bit of an inside joke. When Dubai economy went bust all the expats went to the airport and abandoned their cars in the parking lot and left the keys in the car (no job, no money to pay the loan / lease)

  • When you find the one you want.

    If you buy now you might pay more (covid) but you can also sell your current vehicle for more.

  • When you need one and someone else needs to get rid of one.

  • Download apps such as Graysonline, Carsale.com, etc.
    There you type in your desired vehicle and are presented with numerous for sale, at vastly varied prices.
    It is an exceptional way in which to familiarise yourself with alternatives that you may never have otherwise considered.

    Graysonline is an auction platform and Carsales.com are private sales.

    • GraysOnline sells cars that are complete piles of shit, and has shill bidders that bid everything to the stratosphere. They are then relisted the next week.

      Terrible advice.

  • Wait 6 months if you can.

  • If you have the money to spend it is always the best time to buy. 😷


  • Between 60k km - 80k km is the and four years old is the sweet spot. Fully depreciated and engine is run-in.

  • is there any science as to when they are cheaper.

    Yes and No. It's similar to how economic theory mostly kinda sometimes works but cannot be relied on 100% of the time because of the human factor.

    The stuff that's kind of predictable is supply and demand.

    When "Dieselgate" (Volkswagen's emissions scandal) hit the news a lot of second hand VW Golf's immediately dropped in price. Australian's didn't want to buy a used car that had to be recalled to a dealership to be reprogrammed to drive at a slower performance level. Instant price drop. Similar thing happens with cars that make the news for a fatal flaw that kills someone like a stuck accelerator pedal in a Toyota hybrid. Emotion kicks in and the price drops on used cars of a recalled model until consumer confidence is restored.

    When there is a hail storm/weather event there are thousands of lightly damaged to heavily damaged vehicles that are written off and hit the local auctions.

    When there is a fashion trend that has ended the out of fashion cars get a price drop quicker than the newer trend. Think of LPG being the intelligent choice for affordable running cars. A decade ago Diesel engines were the rage and environmentally conscious buyers were saving the planet by buying diesel cars (very popular in Europe). SUV's and sporty SUV's are all the rage now (eg. Lamborghini and Ferrari). Out of trend cars are picked up much cheaper like the diesel cars previously having a premium but that changed after electric cars took that space.

    When an updated model is announced at a world car exhibition event the price of the current model drops considerately. The drop in new car prices will effect the used car price of the same car shape. Its similar to Sony Playstation gamers who heard about the Sony Playstation 5 won't buy a Playstation 4. Hence predictable price drops of Playstation 4 (or second hand Playstation 3).

    Local economic and world economic factors can play apart. In the posts above you've read stuff like Covid and employment. World economic factors can be stuff like currency exchange rates and recession/depression. Sometime other countries want to do better deals on new cars and second hand. There was a time during the GFC that used cars from Europe dropped hugely which exploded the fad for personally importing cars from Europe (think right and drive Maseratti, Porsche, etc). Same thing happened to personal imports of Japanese supercars. When the personal imports flood the local market it effects the official supply of locally available models and competitor cars (eg. cheaply imported Nissan Skylines effected other competitor sports cars). The automotive chamber in Australia already successfully lobbied the federal government to restrict personal imports of used overseas cars to prevent Australians accessing quality affordable cars.

    The above is just a few examples of how there is a science for predicting price drops particularly when you are looking at used cars that are less than 10 years old. If you are looking at cars older than ten years then forget the science and focus on the condition of the cars.

    If you want to get technical than try to understand the depreciation curves of specific models of cars. It gives you a trend for how quickly a particular model will drop its price each year. 90% of all used car dealers buy and sell cars less than 5 years old and under 100,000km for a good reason. Its the most profitability margin where there are easy opportunities to buy used cars cheap then car wash them and rip off average buyers.

    Most importantly for saving money is not "when" is the best time to buy but "how" to buy. Google around and find out how to beat the used car buyers. This would reward you with more $ savings than when. The time to research "used car buyers guides" and looking up price guides (eg. Redbook) is a quicker than researching and calculating world economics, local economics, localities of hail effected/weather effected communities, model recalls, automotive news, federal regulators, etc.

    • Used car buyers prey on the desperate with low ball offers.

      I don't need to sell so not interested in sellingbto used car buyers

  • There are still deals if you are patient. I think it's just a matter of luck.

    I have been meaning to upgrade for yrs but been too busy. We heard it was a buyers market so decided to list my car. Received plenty of offers but mostly low balls. We don't take any offers seriously until they have seen the car. Sold to the 1st person that viewed the car. He wanted the car immediately. We said 1 week as we have no rd worthy etc

    Also, I never hijacked the asking price. The difference is that if not for covid, the same price may takes weeks n mths. But now we have a better chance due to low supply. Others hijacking their prices also made ours more attractive.

    I was planning to buy a new car but decided to look at 2nd hand late models as well. Found a newly listed car, went to view it and it's perfect. Price is within redbook recommendations.

    It is true that ppl who have worked throughout covid are cashed up. We also have a lot of leave accrued. Our overseas trip next mth cancelled and fully refunded. But working in essential services and frontline has been extremely busy n exhausting with long 12hr shifts. I guess this is a reward for the hard work.

    It is true that ppl buy before they sell so they are not without a car. This was our plan but we did not anticipate that it would sell within 1 week. Bonus is that I saved $30k off new by buying a few yrs old model, 1 female owner, very low kms, and in showroom condition. Another is no finance. No finance may help in negotiations too.

    So there r genuine sellers that do not hijack prices and eager to sell. One was me and the other, the lady I'm buying from.

  • Merged from Best Time to Buy a Car?

    Partner is planning to buy a car around 10-15k$ range.

    Is there a "best" time to buy it eg black friday sales/boxing day/post new years (previous year model's are pushed to sell, however a lot of people know this so demand is high)