New year’s birthday
ALL horses share the same birthday. So do cars.
One-horsepower models turn a year older on August 1. In the automotive world, the candles-on-cake date is January 1.
So on Wednesday every new car in Australian showrooms got a year older. And a year cheaper.
Anything that’s sitting in a showroom now is basically outdated. Buyers will soon be looking for something freshly minted with a 2014 build date and not one of those oldfashioned 2013 models.
That’s why January is as good for bargains — or often better — than the dying days of the previous year when carmakers and dealers are racing to hit the annual targets that raise the figures on their bonus cheques. The clear-out sales have begun and, more than ever, it’s about taking what you can get.
There is no point haggling over a colour or asking for extra equipment if it means the dealer will have to get something that’s not ready to roll.
You must be prepared to buy now and take something on the lot, perhaps even a preregistered car with some kilometres on the clock and fewer zeros on the bottom line.
The big dealers from the big brands are best for bargain hunters, as they have the biggest stocks. Toyota is an exception, because it believes a T badge on the grille is worth more, but brands such as Hyundai and Kia and Nissan and Mitsubishi are all pushing hard and clear the decks for a fresh effort in 2014.
The best way to check what you’re getting is to head for a car’s VIN plate.
It’s riveted to the firewall and is stamped with the car’s Vehicle Identification Number, birth date and other details including its chassis number.
The VIN is the key to a car’s life, even though Carsguide readers frequently contact us to ask if the clock starts running from the date of registration. The rego date is the start point for the crucial warranty coverage, something to remember if you’re buying a pre-registered new car, but the VIN rules on everything else including — crucially — resale values.