What is a demo car?

Demo cars are the vehicles dealerships use for customer test drives. Employees may also use them to commute. They're usually popular models in short supply that dealers often sell to interested buyers when inventory is low. Because demo cars typically have a few hundred to a few thousand miles on them, you may be able to purchase one for less than what you'd pay for a new version of the same car.

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Should I buy a demo car?

Buying a demo car may be a good option in certain situations. Whether it's right for you depends on your budget, the condition of the vehicle, and other available inventory.

Pros of buying a demo car

  • Cost: You may be able to buy a demo car for less than what you would spend on a brand-new version of the same car make and model.
  • Availability: Demo cars are often popular models in short supply. If you have your heart set on a specific vehicle, purchasing a demo car may be the only way to get one.
  • Rebates and special financing: The state considers demo cars new because they have never been sold or registered. They may qualify for new-car rebates and special financing, which can help you save even more.
  • Fees: When you buy a new car, you pay a shipping and freight fee, plus a pre-delivery inspection fee. The dealer may pay for these on a demo car, so you don't have to.

Cons of buying a demo car

  • Price: Buying a demo car doesn't automatically guarantee you'll get a discounted price. You'll negotiate the purchase price at the dealership just as you would if you were buying any other vehicle. Compare the cost of the demo car with the cost of purchasing the same vehicle brand new to see if you're saving money.
  • Mileage: Demo cars usually have a few hundred to a few thousand miles on them.
  • Wear and tear: Because customers and employees drive demo cars, they may have some wear and tear like dents or scratches to the car that a new car wouldn't.
  • Warranty: Most manufacturer warranties are good for a certain number of miles. When you buy a demo car, the vehicle's miles get applied to the warranty. For example, if the warranty is good for 60,000 miles, and you purchase a demo car with 3,500 miles on it, the warranty will be good for another 56,500 miles. Learn more about car warranties.
  • Features: If you opt for a demo car, you don't get to choose the trim level, paint color, or other features you want on the vehicle. You buy it as is.

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