How new is your new car?

Sounds like a trick ques­tion? You’re right. Like ev­ery­thing else in the car world, the def­i­ni­tion of “new” is ne­go­tiable

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - Cover Story - BILL McKIN­NON

IF you think “new” ap­plies to the shiny four-wheeled ob­ject you’re about to sign up for, that it just rolled off the pro­duc­tion line, hasn’t been driven, is packed with state of the art tech and won’t be su­per­seded for a few years, you’re prob­a­bly wrong. I’ll ex­plain … Get a car’s birth­day wron­gong and it can cost you se­ri­ous money. When a car leaves the fac­tory, it car­ries a build plate, which hich iden­ti­fies the month and nd year it was man­u­fac­tured.

When an im­ported car ar­rives in Aus­tralia it iss also fit­ted with a com­pli­ance ce plate, which iden­ti­fies the month onth and year it landed and cleared red cus­toms with the rel­e­vant vant ap­provals ac­cord­ing to o the Aus­tralian De­sign Rules. es.

When you buy, reg­is­ter­ster and in­sure a new car, it­sts model year is de­ter­mined ned by the com­pli­ance plate date.

It’s of­ten the case thathat an im­ported car is built in the year be­fore it ar­rives in Aus­tralia, tralia, so the build plate will iden­ti­fyn­tify the car as be­ing a year older than the com­pli­ance plate.

If you’re buy­ing a new car, your friendly lo­cal dealer will point to the com­pli­ance plate as ev­i­dence of its birth­day.

How­ever at trade-in time they will also have a look at the build plate, and if it’s from a year ear­lier, that’s the year they will use in valu­ing the car, be­cause one year older means it’s worth less.

In the early months of a new year, most im­porters and deal­ers are still hold­ing com­pli­ance-plated stock from the pre­vi­ous year. You’ll of­ten see it ad­ver­tised in Jan­uary with a dis­count, for the same rea­son — it’s now one year old.

Al­ways check the com­pli­ance plate and build plate dates. If ei­ther or both are stamped with last year’s date, your new car isn’t re­ally new any more, so fac­tor this into the deal. A sim­i­lar trap ap­plies here. In the car busi­ness, ev­ery­body from the global supremo to the sales ju­nior at the small­est dealer has to meet targets. If they don’t, they soon get to spend more time with the fam­ily.

So im­porters and deal­ers will some­times reg­is­ter new cars late in the year to get them in­cluded in an­nual sales num­bers, even though the cars haven’t ac­tu­ally been sold to real peo­ple. These cars will then be sold as demon­stra­tors, usu­ally with a few kilometres on the clock and of­ten at an at­trac­tive price. That That’ss fine but the fac­tory war­ranty starts tick­ing as soon as the car is reg­is­tered, so if a demon­stra­tor

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