Buying a car can be a huge investment, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. If you want to know how to score the best deal, it helps to know the best time to buy a car.
Time your purchase perfectly and you could save big, especially if you’re not too bothered about colors and add-ons.
If you’re prepared to be flexible and buy a car that a dealer has already got on the lot, you’ll likely get the most bang for your buck.
Whether you’re looking to upgrade or your old clunker has finally bit the dust, the following tips, hints, and useful info will help you find the best deal.
When is the Best Time to Buy a New Car?
Timing is critical when it comes to buying a car. There are certain months of the year and even days of the week when you’re more likely to get a better deal.
One of the best days of the week to buy a new car is Monday. This is because many other potential buyers are at work so the car dealership rep is very focused on anyone who walks through the door.
According to Autotrader, if you email or call a dealer on a Monday, you’re more likely to get either more attention or a better deal. If they’ve got the time, you might find they’re willing to throw in something extra to sweeten the deal. Free car washes or free oil changes might be on the cards.
End of the Year, Month, and Model Year
When it comes to the best time of the year to buy a new car, October, November, and December are pretty safe bets.
Car dealerships usually have sales quotas to meet any monthly, quarterly, and yearly sales goals. All of these goals start to come together later in the year.
As well as keeping an eye on the end of the calendar year, also pay attention to the end of the model year. This is when the newest versions start hitting the road. Most manufacturers release new cars in the fall, although there are a few exceptions. Keep a lookout for when the press starts sharing reviews about new cars. This means a release is imminent.
If you’re thinking about landing a deal on an older model, consider holding out for the more updated version. They tend to cost just a few hundred dollars more and you get all the new features and typically better gas mileage.
Holidays are often when dealerships offer deep discounts. Here are some holidays to consider, as they are especially great times for buying a car:
- New Year’s Eve: This is possibly one of the best days in the year if you can swing it. Salespeople have monthly, quarterly, or yearly quotas to meet and hefty bonuses to look forward to if they achieve their goals. This might make finding a favorable deal easier.
- Black Friday: Car dealerships have jumped on the Black Friday bandwagon. As well as manufacturer-offered incentives, you might also find some good deals from your local salesperson.
- Labor Day: This is the unofficial end of the summer and officially one of the busiest times for buying new cars. It is estimated that the week of Labor Day accounts for more than 2% of all new car sales for the year.
- July Fourth: While the 4th of July is a popular holiday, many dealers still come to work because they want to entice car buyers. However, if you’re not desperate for a new car immediately, you might be better off holding out for potentially bigger discounts available nearer the end of the year.
- Memorial Day: Traditionally, summer is one of the most expensive times of the year to buy a new car. However, dealers often slash prices around Memorial Day. It’s usually the time for next year’s new models to start trickling out thereby reducing the price of cars already sitting on the lot.
- Presidents Day: The first few months of the year tend to be slow in the retail sector, including auto sales. However, some manufacturers work to spur sales over the President’s Day weekend.
Tips for Getting the Best Dealer at the Dealership
Whatever time of the year you decide to head to your local dealership, there’s more to securing a good deal than perfect timing. Consider the following tips before you head out on your mission:
- Do your research: It pays to do some upfront research on vehicles and lenders. You should also do your homework and avoid common cay-buying mistakes. It will also give you more negotiating power when you roll up at the dealership.
- Get some quotes: Get some quotes from direct auto finance lenders as this will help you gauge whether the dealer is offering you a good deal.
- Know what you can afford: Work out how much you can afford by listing your current monthly payments. Use a car payment calculator to help you determine what car you can afford.
- Improve your credit: Your credit score is a big determinant of the APR on your car financing. If you take the time to improve your credit before you apply for any loans, you’ll get the most competitive rates.
When is the Best Time to Buy a Used Car?
Used and new cars tend to follow similar cycles. If you’re in the market for a used car, January and February are good times to start looking.
You might see more vehicles and a wider range on the market then as people sell their old vehicles after buying new ones over the holidays.
The increased supply can also lower prices. Even if you’re buying from a private party rather than a dealership, shopping in the winter is beneficial. Fewer people are traveling around town doing test drives when the weather is cold. The lower demand also works in your favor because it makes negotiating prices easier.
What’s the Worst Time to Buy a Car?
Let’s not just focus on the best time to buy a car. There is the worst time as well. You shouldn’t buy a car when you’re desperate. It’s much better to go car shopping while your old one still works.
If you’ve got an unusable car, you’ll find it harder to wait for the right deal because you might need transportation immediately.
Starting your car shopping while you’ve still got a roadworthy vehicle means you’ve got time to find a car you like at an affordable price. You’re able to walk away which is great when it comes to negotiations.
Now we’ve answered the question, “When is the best time of the year to buy a car?” It’s time to share some car-buying tips.
- Research, research, and research some more: Always find out the fair price range for the car you want before walking into a dealership. Kelley Blue Book’s Fair Price Purchase Price tool can be very useful. It shows what nearby car buyers recently paid for similar vehicles.
- What about a personal wish list?: Create a list of “wants” such as specific color, mileage, convertible, or sunroof, for example. If you prioritize them, it helps you make your decision.
- Be open-minded: For a truly good deal, it pays to be flexible. There’s a balance between finding the exact trim and color you want and getting the best possible deal.
- Be realistic: You may have to settle for an unpopular color or older model if you want a better price. If you want specific features and you want them right now, expect to pay full price.
- Don’t feel pressured: If you’re not quite ready to sign on the dotted line, don’t feel pressured. There are always going to be deals out there waiting, especially if you’re willing to do your research and consider other models.
You’re going to need some patience if you want to wait for the best time to buy a car. If you can hold off on your purchase, time can be an ally. If you’re wondering when is the best time of year to buy a car, keep an eye out for deals and incentives during upcoming holidays and you’ll maximize your savings.
Is it better to sell my car myself or trade it in?
This depends on your preferences. You might get more money by selling your car privately, but it will cost in other ways. You’ll have to give it your time, handle the responsibility of advertising it, get it ready to sell, arrange finance and insurance, and make appointments for test drives. If you trade it in, all of these tasks become the responsibility of the dealer.
Should I buy a used car?
If your budget is small, used cars are an excellent option. There are some dependable and practical vehicles in the used-car market, without the new-car price tag.
Should I lease a car?
People tend to choose leasing because of the lower monthly payments. When you’re paying less every month, you can drive a more expensive car or truck than you would be able to afford to buy. However, people often regret leasing later.
You’ll be better off purchasing a car that fits your needs and budget. Take care of the car, pay off the loan as soon as you can, and then enjoy the car for a while.
How much should I spend on a new car?
Setting a budget for your car purchase can be challenging. After all, car prices are so unpredictable nowadays. Ultimately, how much you should spend depends on what you can afford. There’s something out there to suit every budget.
How do I finance a car?
Most dealers offer financing, but you should also look into alternatives, just in case. If you get pre-approved for a loan before you head to a dealership, it gives you more flexibility and you won’t be stuck with one sales lot or dealership.
How long should a car last?
The lifespan of any car is determined by many factors. A car’s condition, age, and total mileage are just a few examples. Many of the factors are out of your control, but you can extend the life of your vehicle if you invest in regular car maintenance and keep your car clean.