THE motoring press is full of people telling us that this is now the best time to buy a used car . . . but is it?

And what type of car should a buyer be looking for as winter closes in?

Then again, while there’s never a shortage of people prepared to advise on the best time to buy a used car, or the best possible deal, what do the industry’s respected professionals suggest? British Car Auctions (BCA) is one of the UK's top motor auctioneers, and the firm’s Tim Naylor, who has been with BCA for almost 20 years, has seen a few cars sold in his time.

He said “The used car trade rarely has any down-time these days — with increasing volumes of business being conducted over the Internet, you can technically buy a ‘virtual’ used car at any time of the day or night, 365 days a year. But there is still an element of seasonality in the business that a switched-on buyer can take advantage of. For example, motorists looking for a convertible would do well to keep their eyes peeled over the coming weeks. Values tend to stall when the weather worsens, and, following the blast of cold weather we have had recently, there will be some good deals about.

“Sports cars, too, are similarly affected by the bad weather, so if you hanker after an MX-5 or MG-TF, keep looking over the coming winter months, because values will rise next spring,” Mr Naylor added.

“The flip side of this is that you can also be sure that the onset of colder weather will have persuaded a few motorists to invest in an off-roader, particularly those living in more remote parts of the country. Buy your 4x4 in high summer when the weather is fine, and you might get a better deal.”

Mr Naylor added: “If you want the widest choice of vehicles, then the weeks after the registration plate change in March and September are worth investigating.

Many of the major fleets and leasing companies will change their cars in these periods, and the influx of well-maintained, three-year-old, one-owner models should please even the fussiest of used-car buyers.

“Traditionally these are also hectic times for dealer part-exchange business, which can mean an eclectic mix of cars in the auction halls.”

But, he stresses if you want the most bang for your buck, then get out and about in quieter times.

“Possibly the quietest time is in mid-December, as the festive season looms. The only downside is that stock can be a bit limited, as the big fleet and leasing firms have fewer cars to sell, but if you are not over-fussy about a specific model or a huge choice, then it can be a profitable time to buy.”