Demonstrator car buying guide and checklist

Looking to get behind the wheel of a demo car? Find out how to score a bargain without getting blind-sided.

Purchasing a car is big a decision, so you want to be prepared before you start the car-buying process. If you've decided to pick up a bargain and purchase a demo car, this guide will take you through everything you need to know to help you purchase with confidence.

What is a demonstrator vehicle?

This is a vehicle that salesmen and executives use at dealerships. They aren't only used for test drives, but can be used to boost awareness of a new model, increase traffic at a dealership or just move old stock. These cars are new-model vehicles 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.

Finding a demo car

While the dealership is the first place you'd turn to find a demonstrator vehicle, you can also search for these on car-buying websites such as Comparing prices before you buy can give you some bargaining power to negotiate the price. You can check prices on sites such as RedBook and The Motor Report for new and used vehicles to get an idea of current market prices.

Types of demonstrator vehicles

You might hear advertisements on the radio or TV blaring demonstrator deals, but before running out to pick one up, make sure you understand what you're buying:

  • Runout models.
    These are discounted models that need to be cleared out before new stock arrives. Kilometres are usually below 10,000km but can come with discounts for the amount they've travelled.
  • Dealer demonstrators.
    Cars in this category can be offered as loaners to customers and they are usually the newest models to help promote them. These can also be cars that customers returned and repaired at the dealership or even cars that have been from cancelled customer orders.
  • Factory demonstrators.
    Vehicles used at events, promotions, for sponsorships or at companies with company car plans with high turnovers or press fleets can send these vehicles back to the dealership to sell for a bargain price.

Tips for making your purchase

  • When you're at the dealership, find out how old the car is. Find out how often the car was used and if there is any paperwork available to see the activity of it use.
  • Check when it was registered and who the first registered owner was.
  • If the car has a decent number of kilometres driven on it, ask who has been driving it and what its primary use was.
  • Ask what differentiates the new car from the demo version.
  • Check the kilometres – if it's over 500km, ask about its history.

If you know how much you want to spend - you could get pre-approval for finance here >

How to inspect the vehicle

Demonstrator vehicles are relatively new, but they all differ on age and kilometres driven. Inspecting the vehicle for any signs of wear and tear is important prior to making your purchase.

  • The engine should start easily and shouldn't make any noise.
  • Check the quality of the tyres.
  • Ask if the vehicle if the vehicle has been in any accidents.
  • Check the battery life.
  • Make sure there are no scratches and check the paint quality.
  • Check the lights, radio, windscreen wipers and all other systems function properly.


How much do you save with a demo vehicle?

This differentiates from purchase to purchase. The main saving comes from the fact that the car isn't "new", so cannot be sold as such. Also, you will be given many of the extras that come with top-of-the-line vehicles as they need to show them to customers on test-drives. If you aren't happy with the price, ask yourself if you really need all of the extras that are being thrown in with the car.

You should also look at the new vehicle sticker price of the model you are purchasing and see how much you are saving with the demo vehicle.

Demonstrator vehicles can be a great option that can help you save. If you're interested in purchasing a used vehicle, you can take a look at our car buying guide by following the link below.

How-to guide and checklist for your used car purchase

Picture: Shutterstock

Elizabeth Barry

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

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