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Demo car buying guide and checklist

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Thinking about buying a demo car? Find out how to score a bargain without getting blindsided.

It’s important that you come prepared when you enter the car-buying process. If you’re looking for a discount and considering the purchase of a demo car, you’ve came to the right place. Here’s everything you need to know to help you buy with confidence.

What’s a demo car?

Also called a demonstrator vehicle, this is a car that sales people and executives use at dealerships for personal use or test drives. The can have thousands of miles on them, but are typically in great shape. These are new model cars that usually come with all the bells and whistles from top-range models. And because they aren’t technically “new” — you can save on your purchase.

Where can I find a demo vehicle?

The car dealership is where you should head to find a demo vehicle. Check prices on sites like Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds to get an idea of current market prices. These comparisons can give you bargaining power when it comes to negotiating the vehicle price.

Types of demo cars

Before you figure out your finances and run to pick up a demo vehicle, make sure you understand what you’re buying:

  • Older models. These are discounted cars that need to be cleared out before new stock arrives. The vehicles usually have less than 5,000 miles and can come with discounts for the light wear and tear.
  • Dealer demos. These cars are sometimes used as loaners for customers and they’re usually the newest models to help promote them. These can also be vehicles that were immediately returned by customers or even cars that’ve been canceled customer orders.
  • Factory demonstrators. These vehicles are used at promotional or sponsored events and are sent back to the dealership to sell for a bargain price.

7 tips for making your demo car purchase

  • When you’re at the dealership, find out how old the car is and how often the car was used. Ask if there is any documentation available to see how the car was used.
  • Check if the car was ever registered.
  • Ask for a detailed list of what differentiates the new car from the demo version.
  • Always negotiate the price of a demo car — you’ll be surprised how much of a discount you could get.
  • Get the car inspected by a third-party to feel confident the car is still in top condition.
  • Apply for a pre-approved car loan to give yourself a hard budget and more bargaining strength.

How to inspect a demo vehicle

Demo vehicles are relatively new, but some may have been driven off road or have more miles on them. Inspecting the vehicle for any signs of wear and tear is important prior to making your purchase.

  • Listen for to the engine for any strange noises.
  • Check the quality of the tires.
  • Ask if the vehicle has been in any accidents.
  • Look for scratches and check the paint quality.
  • Check the battery life.
  • Check the lights, radio, windscreen wipers and that everything functions properly.

If you’re unsure of what to look for, take the vehicle to a mechanic or bring a friend who is car-savvy.

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How much can you save with a demo vehicle?

Discount on each demo car can vary based on its features, what it was used for and how many miles it has. Compare the new vehicle sticker price to see how much you’re saving with the demo vehicle.

Demo cars can be a great option and help you save when purchasing your next vehicle, but they might not be the right choice for everyone, so be sure to look around and compare your options before jumping in the driver’s seat.

Find loans to help buy a demo car

Rates last updated September 21st, 2018

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Name Product Product Description Minimum Credit Score Term of Loan Requirements
car.Loan.com Car Loans
Apply with a simple online application to get paired with a local auto lender. No credit and bad credit accepted.
300
Varies by lender
Must be a US citizen with a current US address and employed full-time or have guaranteed fixed income.
Auto Credit Express Car Loans
Get connected with an auto lender near you, even if you have bad credit.
300
Typically 3 to 6 years
Must be employed full-time or have guaranteed fixed income of at least $1,500/month and be a current resident of the US or Canada.
LendingClub Auto Refinancing
Lower your monthly car payments and save on interest through a fast and easy online application process.
Fair or poor credit
Minimum of 2 years
Car must be less than 10 years old with fewer than 120,000 miles. Current loan must have a balance between $5,000 and $55,000 and at least 24 months left in its term.
MotoRefi Car Loan Refinancing
A car loan connection service for borrowers looking to refinance.
525
1–6 years
Must have an income of at least $2,000/month and have a vehicle with less than 100,000 miles.
myAutoloan.com Car Loans
Get up to four offers in minutes through one simple application. Multiple financing types available including new cars, used cars and refinancing.
550
24 to 84 months
Must have a Social Security number; make $24,000+/year; have no open bankruptcies.
LendingTree Auto Loans
Compare multiple financing options for auto refinance, new car purchase, used car purchase and lease buy out.
670
Typically 1 to 7 years
Must be a US citizen and 18+ years old. Must have good to excellent credit.
Capital One Auto Financing
You could qualify for a car loan of up to 40000, but not all dealers accept this bank's financing.
Good to excellent credit
36 to 72 months
Valid street address; existing Capital One accounts in good standing. Car must be a 2006 model or newer with less than 120,000 miles.
Wells Fargo Auto Loans
Auto loans with high loan amounts to cover your car purchase or refinancing needs.
Good to excellent credit
1 to 6 years
Your income and assets must support your existing debt obligations and the desired loan amount.

Compare up to 4 providers

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Elizabeth Barry

Elizabeth is an editor for finder.com.au specialising in personal finance and fintech. She enjoys reading PDSs so you don’t have to.

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