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The best time to buy a car

By Austin Lobo

The best time to buy a car is obviously when you absolutely need to buy one. In most cases, buying a car is a rather carefully thought-out investment. For many Indian families buying a car is like owning the second most precious asset after property.

Most people would look for a car that would give them optimal mileage and low maintenance costs, hassle-free ownership, decent power, safety and nowadays, people look for space within the car, features that come with it and its look, feel, and style.

The car is no more a vehicle that gets the family from place A to place B but it has become a status symbol that tells about its owner (especially to neighbours and friends).

Besides, since cars depreciate by about 50 percent by the fifth year, you would need to look at its resale value as well.

Having done the research, when should you buy? A car that shows the manufacturing year as 2015, for instance, is stuck with that date even if you bought it in December 2015. You might be better off buying a car in early 2016.

On the other hand, many dealers offer discounts in December to get rid of old stock before the new year sets in. Take a look. If you find a car that appeals to you, give in. For owners who would like to live with their cars for well over seven years, the manufacturing date would not matter so far as resale is concerned. What would matter, however, is the condition of the car, its maintenance papers and demand for it in the market.

Be financially prepared
For most families in India buying a new car involves taking a car loan, which is freely available. Take one but be sure that you will be able to service it. So, buy when you are financially sound. This could differ from person to person.

Festive discounts
Dealers and carmakers often offer discounts on festive occasions and throw in a few freebies as well. This might be a good time to buy. If you have a certain model in mind, it might be a good idea to wait until the discounts are announced.

Wait for the launch
Often you might hear of a car that is due to be launched but has not actually hit the market. It might be better to see what you are getting into before parting with your money-you may want certain features which you might be disappointed to find are not in the model you want to buy.

Trade in your old one
When your old car does not satisfy you any more, trade it in. Many dealers offer attractive discounts on new cars if you sell them your old car. This will give you an attractive deal on the new car you buy.

End of a month
Industry experts have mapped out certain times of year when you might actually get better deals if you plan to buy a car. During the end of a month, for instance, carmakers and dealers are desperate to meet targets. In the bargain, you could benefit. Although this may not be true of every month, it may be a good idea to check out prices and deals towards the ends of months.

Some experts believe the best deals on a new car can be had not only at the end of a month but the end of a quarter, when periodic sales goals are to be met. Similarly, on days of bad weather, you are unlikely to have high footfalls at car showrooms. Those days might hold something special for you. But if you really cannot wait for that rainy day, go at the end of the day - people normally are more flexible when they want to go home.