Should you buy a demo model?

Ah the age-old question, “should I buy a demo model?” Ok fine, it might not exactly be age-old, but it has certainly been a question many of you have asked me. There is always a debate surrounding buying new or used when it comes to cars, but are demo models perhaps the happy medium?


I am sure most of you already know the answer to this, but just to refresh our memories, a demo is a new car that is used to showcase its abilities to potential customers. It is driven by the employees of the dealership as well as by potential customers. It usually isn’t driven more than 5 000 km. Essentially, it is the car used to sell the others cars just like it. The tester, if you will, think ‘perfume bottles at Duty Free’.


It is pretty obvious I would say. You essentially get a brand new car at a lower price. Dealers usually use the higher-specced models to show off to customers, so you can find yourself a top of the range model at a price that would be closer to the entry-level model.


This all sounds fantastic, right? A brand new car at a steal! But there are a few disadvantages to buying a demo model. The obvious one is that the car now has mileage on the clock and the warranty and/or service plan is now shortened.

But another disadvantage of buying a demo and something to consider, is that many people would have driven the car. People’s driving styles differ dramatically and you won’t know just how hard this car has been driven. So expect some wear and tear on it.


Although there are a few disadvantages to buying a demo model, if you do your homework and know what it is you are looking for, you might just find the greatest deal of your life with a demo model.


I sound so bossy, but you really should read these tips:

  1. Find out everything you can about the car. Ask the dealer what the car was used for. Request proof of the car’s in-service date — the day that the warranty begins. Sometimes warranties begin earlier on demo cars, since dealerships are technically using them before making a sale. If the warranty starts early and there isn’t an option to extend it, you can use this as leverage to ask for a lower buying price. To make absolutely sure you are getting all the info you need, get the FirstCheck app where you will be able to find out all the info you are looking for.
  2. Compare pricing with new models. Make sure it really is worth it. Don’t just take the first offer. Compare models and pricing and go back to the dealer with an offer that works best for you.
  3. Go over the car with a fine toothcomb as it is very possible that the car would have been damaged on one of the many test drives. Check things like rims and tyres, check the windscreen for cracks, check the whole car for dents or scratches, and make sure that everything is almost as good as new before making the purchase.
  4. Don’t just sign on the dotted line. Make sure you have gone over every detail of the contract and ensure you are happy with everything before you sign and hand over your hard-earned cash.


I chatted to Peter Palm, Road Test Engineer for CAR magazine, and I asked him what he thinks of buying a demo. His response was, “I think it’s an excellent idea. Any teething problems will be discovered and fixed by the dealer, mileage will be minimal and some of the initial depreciation knock is removed before you open your wallet.”

There you go!!! I was right, perhaps a demo is the happy medium when it comes to car shopping.


I’m Julz, South African motoring journalist with a passion for cars and a questionable sense of humour. I am not your average motoring journalist, and this is not your average motoring website.

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