How to Buy an Ex-Demo Car

Written by barb nefer
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How to Buy an Ex-Demo Car
Cars are sometimes loaned to dealership employees. (yellow car, a honda Japanese sport car model image by alma_sacra from

Demo cars are vehicles used at dealerships for test drives or loaned to employees for personal use. They often rack up several thousand miles of use before they are put up for sale. A car sales person might try to interest you in a former demo car when you are searching for a new vehicle. You may get a good buy on such a car, but you must know how to negotiate a fair price that offsets the wear and tear.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Ask the sales person if the ex-demo car has ever been registered. It is still legally considered a new car if it has never been registered, no matter how many miles are on the odometer. This makes it eligible for manufacturer rebates. Registration turns it into a used car and reduces its value.

  2. 2

    Ask the sales person how the ex-demo car was used. Car Buying Edge, a car purchasing advice website, explains that demo vehicles are often driven harder and more carelessly than privately owned cars. Buyers doing test drives often push vehicles to their limits, and employees may not treat demo cars with as much care as they would their own cars.

  3. 3

    Hire an independent mechanic to evaluate the ex-demo car. There could be problems from hard use that are not readily apparent. An experienced mechanic should be able to uncover them, so you know exactly what you are buying.

  4. 4

    Tell the sales person you expect a discount to make up for the lost manufacturer's warranty time. Most manufacturers provide a warranty based on the purchase date or a certain amount of mileage, whichever comes first. Your warranty time is cut down if you buy an ex-demo car with several thousand miles, Car Buying Edge explains. You should get a discount to compensate you for this loss.

  5. 5

    Calculate a fair price for the ex-demo car that does not include any manufacturer's rebates. For example, the sales person offer you a £1,950 discount based on a £1,950 rebate. You are not really getting a discount because the dealership will still get its full price for the car. Negotiate a fair deal without considering rebate money, which should then be deducted from the negotiated price.

Tips and warnings

  • Consumer Reports, a non-profit product testing organisation, recommends asking the sales person for the ex-demo car's maintenance records. The sales person might claim the vehicle was driven carefully and well cared for, but you cannot be sure of this unless you see the actual paperwork. You may need this proof to keep the manufacturers warranty in force, since many warranties require preventive maintenance like oil changes as a condition of coverage.

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