cars, utes

Hansy Mannil Jul 10, 2023

Aside from investing in a house, buying a new car is one of the biggest financial decisions you’re ever going to make. So it makes sense to try and get the best value for your money. And the best value is often sitting right there on the dealer’s forecourt in the shape of their high-spec demo car. But to say demo cars are a mixed bag is a bit of an understatement. With that in mind, we came up with this useful guide to help you avoid any potential pitfalls when picking up a test-drive model.

But before we go any further, let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons of buying a demo car.

The pros

It’s cheaper – And by cheaper we mean a LOT cheaper. Sometimes demo cars can be thousands of dollars cheaper than a new model.

It’s higher spec – The dealer wants to impress all those buyers, and the best way to do so is with a high-spec demo car.

It’s well looked after – A demo car will be in tip-top condition both inside and out. No one wants to test drive a battered looking demo car.

It’s ready to take home – No putting your name on a waiting list. You can drive it home there and then.

The cons

Less choice – Or should we say no choice at all. The dealer will likely have one demo model. If you don’t like the colour or trim, then there’s not much you can do about it.

A lot of wear and tear – While a couple of thousand kms on the clock are nothing to worry about, the fact that these kms were clocked up by scores of drivers putting the car through its paces is. With so many different drivers, the wear and tear on a demo car could be quite significant.

The tyres could need changing – With kms on the clock, the demo car will need new tyres much sooner than a brand new car.

Yes, there are a few cons, but the fact that you’re saving so much money should make these disadvantages easy enough to forget.

Choosing your demo car

The quality of a demo car can vary greatly, and this is all down to how the dealership or manufacturer used it in its short life on the forecourt.

There are four main types of demo car

The demo runout model – When a manufacturer is set to introduce a new model, dealers need to get rid of the old models (the runout ones) pretty sharpish. If you’re willing to settle for a car that’s immediately out of date as soon as you buy it, then you can save big on a runout model. And you can save even more if you opt for the demo runout model.

The dealer demo – This is the test drive car that you and all the other prospective buyers take out on the road for a spin and is the type of demo car you’re most likely to buy.

The courtesy car – This is the car that gets loaned out to customers that bring their cars in for servicing or repairs. This car might have a few more kms on the clock, and as the customers drive it without a salesperson at their side, it may have taken a bit more punishment.

The factory demo – The manufacturer will have cars that they use for exhibitions, commercials, and sponsored events. Once they start showing a bit of wear and tear the manufacturer sends them to the dealership for sale.

How to buy your demo car

Like any car purchase, there are certain things you need to watch out for when buying your demo car. Remember, although it looks brand new, this is a used car so be aware that it could have problems.

Research the car

Do your homework and read up on the particular model you intend to buy. Check prices for nearly new models using sites like Redbook or carsales. Doing this gives you a good idea of what the car is worth, so you’ll know if you’re getting a good deal.

Ask about the car’s history

Of course, there’s a certain amount of trust involved here, but you should always ask the dealer about the car’s history. Was it a customer’s replacement car for a prolonged period? How long has it been a demo car? A good dealer will have all of this down on paper.

Check everything on the car

And by everything, we mean every switch, every door handle, and every function on the infotainment system. Hundreds of people have sat in this car flicking switches and opening compartments, make sure they didn’t break anything.

Always negotiate

When a demo model is up for sale, the dealer wants to move it on as fast as possible. This means that you have a great opportunity to negotiate on the final price of the car. Always ask for a better price or some extras thrown into the deal, you never know what you’ll get if you just ask.

Check the warranty

Most manufacturers will start your warranty from the date of purchase but make sure this is the case. If not, then you could lose a chunk of your warranty coverage for a car that was in the showroom for a year.

Don’t take the deal immediately

No dealer expects you to shake on the deal there and then, so take some time to think about it and make sure that this is the car you want for a price you can afford. You can also take this opportunity to ask around at other dealerships to see if you can get a better price on a similar demo model.

If you find the right demo car, then you could save yourself a lot of cash and get a high- spec car into the bargain. But like we just said, don’t rush into the deal too quickly. Even though the price quoted by the dealer might seem like a steal, there’s a chance you just might be able to get a brand new car for the same price elsewhere. And that is exactly what our partner carconnect will try to do for you. Team up with Australia’s top online car broker, and they’ll check the prices at dozens of dealerships to find you the best price on the market. And yes, sometimes they can find new models as cheap as that demo car you’re thinking of buying.


Whatever approach you decide to take, make sure to give us a call on 1300 STRATTON (1300 787 288) before you talk to the dealer about finance. We’ll help you get pre-approved for finance giving you a little more negotiating power so you can get the best deal on that demo car.

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