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Do Demo’s save Dollars?

Demonstrator vehicles are popular with some car buyers because you get many of the advantages of buying new, at considerable savings. But are there hidden pitfalls you should know about?

A demonstrator vehicle is one bought new by the dealership and used for a few months – up to a year or more in some cases – to show new car buyers and allow them to take a test drive. Sometimes, executive employees or salesmen are also permitted to make limited use of these cars.

When a new model is released, the car is generally of limited value to the dealership as it doesn’t accurately reflect the features of the latest model, so it is sold off as a ‘demonstrator’ at a discounted price.

Astute buyers might achieve significant savings by buying a demo car, but there are some negatives to be aware of.


  • A demo car usually has low kilometres on the clock.
  • The history of the vehicle is usually vouched for by the supplying dealer
  • It is likely to have been well cared for and regularly serviced in the dealer’s own workshop
  • You can drive it out the door right away. There’s no waiting for a new vehicle to come into stock.
  • Dealers usually incorporate on-road costs into the price, so you will typically be quoted a ‘drive away’ price
  • You might save thousands over the price of an equivalent new car, but you get an almost new car
  • The car will most likely come with a factory warranty.


  • The dealer’s quoted price may not represent the discount he suggests, because he might be comparing with the list price of a new vehicle, not the price a new vehicle buyer actually pays after aggressive negotiation! Before deciding that demo is a bargain, ask Private Fleet to quote you on the new equivalent!
  • While it may have low kilometres on the clock, it has probably been test driven by a large number of drivers with different driving styles and varying levels of competence. Staff may have driven it, and sometimes staff members can be careless when driving a car belonging to their boss! It might have been loaned to a salesman’s wife, or a salesman might have taken it bush bashing!
  • Demo cars are sometimes subjected to considerable wear and tear that might not be noticeable to the untrained eye.
  • The kilometres on the clock reduce your factory warranty.
  • An occasional unscrupulous dealer may brand a ‘roll back’ as a demo. That’s a car that was sold but the buyer had to return because of manufacturing faults, or because finance collapsed.
  • Some of the costs of owning a car, like insurance, are higher for used cars even if they are almost new, and your insurer might classify a demo as a ‘used car’.

Its just as easy to assume a demo represents a bargain – or to be taken in by the salesmans credible assurances – but you might pay far too much for the vehicle, and find later, that new was actually less costly.

If you are careful to check the condition or the vehicle and investigate its history and compare pricing accurately, buying a demo from a reputable dealer might result in substantial savings. But do be careful to do your sums accurately.

Ask Private Fleet to quote you on the new car equivalent. Their buying power and negotiating skill might get you the brand new version at a comparable price!