How to buy a demo car |
woman in driver seat with car salesman outside

Demo car buying guide and checklist

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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.

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.

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Rates last updated March 19th, 2019

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Name Product Product Description Min. Credit Score Term of Loan Requirements Car Loans
Apply with a simple online application to get paired with a local auto lender. No credit and bad credit accepted.
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.
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.
LightStream Auto Loans
Quick car loans from $5,000 to $100,000 with competitive rates for borrowers with strong credit.
Good to excellent credit
Flexible terms
Good or excellent credit, enough income or assets to afford a new loan, US citizen or permanent resident, 18+ years old
LendingClub Auto Refinancing
Lower your monthly car payments and save on interest through a fast and easy online application process.
Fair or better 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.
RateGenius Auto Loan Refinance
Connect with a network of over 150 lenders to refinance your car loan.
Income of $2,000+/month, vehicle has less than 150,000 miles and is no older than 8 years, loan balance is between $10,000 and $100,000, debt-to-income ratio is less than 50%
LendingTree Auto Loans
Compare multiple financing options for auto refinance, new car purchase, used car purchase and lease buy out.
Good to excellent credit
Typically 1 to 7 years
Must be a US citizen and 18+ years old. Must have good to excellent credit.

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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.

Should I buy a demo car?

Demo cars can help you save but it’s not always a great choice. Here’s when you might and might not to buy a demo car:

Consider a demo car if…

  • You’d rather have an unregistered car
  • You don’t mind a car with mileage
  • You’re ready to negotiate

Look elsewhere if…

  • You can find a better deal on a used car
  • You notice some wear and tear
  • The price is the same as an undriven car

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7 tips for making your demo car purchase

  • 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.


How much can I 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.

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Frequently asked questions

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Elizabeth Barry

Elizabeth Barry is Finder's global fintech editor. She has written about finance for over five years and has been featured in a range of publications and media including Seven News, the ABC, Mamamia, Dynamic Business and Financy. Elizabeth has a Bachelor of Communications and a Master of Creative Writing from the University of Technology Sydney. In 2017, she received the Highly Commended award for Best New Journalist at The Lizzies. Elizabeth has found writing about innovations in financial services to be her passion (which has surprised no one more than herself).

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