Dealerships are always trying to sell demonstrator cars (or 'demos') that were driven by the managers or salesmen (although – of late – few salesmen receive demos) but are still legally new. The salesman may tell you that the demonstrator has been immaculately maintained, citing its use by a dealership executive. He or she may insist you can get a far better deal on this demo than you would get on a brand new car. Don't believe it.
While a discount may seem generous at first glance, my experience tells me that the selling price of a demonstrator car is often not much less than if you bought the same car brand new. And if you take into account the fact that there is considerable mileage on this "new" car (which, for some manufacturers, gets subtracted from the mileage allotment of your Factory Warranty) and the fact that demo cars often receive lots of abusive wear and tear that may not be noticeable at first glance, the demo suddenly doesn't seem so attractive. My best advice: Avoid any offers to buy a demo car.
What is the difference between a demonstrator and a used car? Aren't they both considered used?
A demonstrator car (or demo) is a new car that has been driven by the dealership's salesmen, managers or executives but has never been registered with the state. A used car is any car that has been registered.
Rule Of Thumb: Once a vehicle has been registered, it is legally considered used. If the vehicle has never been registered (regardless of how many miles are on it), the vehicle is legally considered new. Demonstrators, therefore, are still considered new.
Michael Royce is a consumer advocate and former car salesman.
Car Buying Resources