Best Time to Buy a Car

Getting a great deal on a car is incredibly important for most consumers. People want to save as much money as possible on their big purchase. They also want the gratification that comes with paying substantially less than the dealer’s asking price. There are many ways to ensure that you are getting a great bargain on your next car. One of the simplest strategies is making your purchase when incentives and rebates are typically higher than usual. Knowing the best time to buy a car can save you thousands of dollars. Some of these periods are exclusive to a single day or week, while others are based on events and cycles. The following list of times are typically associated with the best car deals.

Best Time of the Year to Buy a Car

The best time of the year to buy a car is towards the end of it, beginning around fall. The reason is that new models typically arrive at dealerships during this season. As a result, dealers need to sell their current inventory to make room for the new vehicles. While not every manufacturer releases their new cars during this time, most of the new models arrive at dealerships between September and October. The big sales will usually be for current models rather than the cars from next year’s lineup. However, if you don’t absolutely need the latest car from the upcoming year, you can potentially score a great deal on a current year model. Consider your options and determine whether the price or the newer vehicle is most important to you.

Best Month to Buy a Car

December is the best month of the year to buy a car for a number of reasons. One of those reasons is old inventory. Dealers want to sell as much of their old inventory as possible to make room for the new models before the upcoming year. Having many older models on their lot will motivate them to make a deal. Although you can usually find great deals on all inventory during this time, the biggest discounts are typically for cars from the current year.

Sales quotas are another reason why dealers offer big discounts during this month. Bonuses are based on a number of different sales intervals. The month of December happens to converge on the end of a dealership’s monthly, quarterly and annual sales period. Both the dealership and sales staff will have plenty of motivation to sell as many cars as possible, especially if they haven’t reached their sales goal yet. That will result in even greater effort to give the consumer a deal they want to close the sale.

While you should find holiday specials during the entire month, the last week will offer the greatest incentives. In particular, the biggest discounts can be found on December 30 and 31. In addition, those offers may carry over to the first few days of the new year, depending on the week. That is because January 1 is a holiday and some dealerships do not officially start a new sales month until the next business day. It is always a good idea to check the terms and conditions of any promotion to verify its expiration date.

Best Time of the Month to Buy a Car

The end of the month is a great time to purchase a car because it is around the conclusion of a sales period. Dealerships have sales goals for both their company and individual sales members. These goals are generally measured on a monthly, quarterly and yearly basis. As a sales term nears its end, dealerships and their staff could be very motivated to close a sale if they have not reached their sales quota or goal yet. That translates into a great chance for you to get a good deal on a car purchase.

Best Day of the Week to Buy a Car

Monday is the best day of the week to get a great deal on a car because there is typically less traffic. The dealership is usually busiest on the weekend and much less crowded at the start of a new week. This means that the sales staff will have much more time to focus on fewer customers and negotiate a sale. The dealership will also be more inclined to bargain since there will be less opportunities to sell a car. While Monday is generally the day with the greatest savings on a car, any weekday will provide a better chance of getting a good deal over the weekend.

Another benefit of making your vehicle purchase during the week is access to financial institutions. Although plenty of banks are open on the weekend, some close early or do not operate on Sundays. If you plan on financing or leasing your car, visiting the dealership during the week will ensure that important aspects of your deal are addressed at the time of purchase.

Best Holidays to Buy a Car

Just like other retailers, auto dealerships offer big discounts during the holidays as well. The best holidays for buying a car include the following:

  • Presidents’ Day: February is one of the slowest months of the year for auto sales. As a result, dealerships will try to stimulate buying activity around this holiday by offering discounts on their cars. It isn’t the holiday with the best offers, but it is a good time if you really need to buy a car during this period.
  • Memorial Day: The unofficial start of the summer season comes with great car offers. With the upcoming warm weather and road trips, Memorial Day weekend is one of the busiest periods for auto sales. Since it’s typically a very busy time, it is a good idea to plan ahead and do your car research before arriving to the dealership.
  • Fourth of July: Dealerships usually have good deals around Independence Day. Some manufacturers also release new cars around this time, so you could potentially find great offers on outgoing models.
  • Labor Day: As summer unofficially ends and the beginning of fall nears, upcoming model year cars will start arriving at dealership lots around this holiday. Although it isn’t the time associated with the greatest savings, some dealers will start offering significant discounts on some of their older inventory.
  • Black Friday: The day after Thanksgiving is typically associated with amazing deals from major retailers. However, auto dealerships offer big discounts on cars as well. Plenty of offers can be found at the start of the holiday shopping season. Most of these discounts are on outgoing models that need to be cleared out. Although a great car deal can be find around this time, waiting just a few more weeks could yield even greater savings.
  • New Year’s Eve: Although not officially a holiday, the last day of December will offer some of the biggest car discounts of the year. In fact, based on TrueCar data, December 31 is the day with the second highest average discount at 8.3%. The are a couple reasons why there are significant savings on this day. One reason is an urgent need to clear outgoing models before the start of the new year. Another reason is that the end of December is the last day for dealerships to meet their monthly, quarterly and annual sales goals. One caveat is that the next monthly sales period typically doesn’t start until the next business day. Since January 1 is a holiday, opportunities for discounts sometimes carry over into the first few days of the year.
  • New Year’s Day: Coming in at number one for holiday savings is the first holiday of the year. Based on historical Data from TrueCar, the biggest car discounts of the year happen on January 1. It is estimated that the average percentage off of MSRP on this day is 8.5%. That is more than any other day of the year.

Other Good Times to Purchase a Car

When manufacturers release their upcoming model year cars they usually discount the outgoing models to make room for the new inventory. While most new cars arrive at dealerships around fall, some are released at other times throughout the year. In fact, it is not uncommon for next year’s cars to arrive in spring or summer. It is a good idea to pay attention to news from the manufacturer about new model releases and plan your purchase around that time. In particular, you should be aware of the following cycles:

  • Minor Model Update: When manufacturers release updated versions of their current cars they may introduce new features and minor design changes. However, the platform and majority of the car remains the same. If the changes to the new car are minimal and you don’t need the latest example, you could get an excellent deal on the outgoing model.
  • Complete Model Redesign: A complete model redesign is when a manufacturer releases an entirely new version of a car on a brand new platform. A comprehensive redesign can provide an even greater opportunity for car savings than a minor update. When an entirely new platform is released, dealerships will typically offer substantial incentives on the soon-to-be old model. It is important to weigh your options and decide on what is most important to you. If the older platform is sufficient for your needs, you should take advantage of the big discount.

More Car Buying Tips

Timing is an important factor when buying a car, but it certainly isn’t the only aspect. Consider the following actions before buying your next car.

Do Your Research

After determining the best time to buy a car, it is crucial to do your research on your next vehicle. Try to narrow down your choices to as few models as possible, based on your absolute needs and preferences. If you have already decided on a particular model, determine which trim and options you must have. Although your preferences might change after a test drive, reducing your amount of decisions before your dealership visit will save you time and give you an advantage during negotiation.

Shop Around and Get Offers

Manufacturer incentives and rebates consist of a set amount or percentage off of the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP). However, that doesn’t mean you cannot negotiate the discounted price down further. Don’t rush your purchase and buy from the first dealer that you visit. Instead, shop around and get as many offers as possible. Some dealers will try to make those offers contingent on you making the purchase immediately to close the sale. However, manufacturer incentives and rebates are valid until their official expiration date. In addition, dealers will typically honor negotiated discounts for at least a few days.

Get Preapproved for a Loan

Financing is another important aspect of buying a car. Dealers earn a profit from the financing side as well, so that could potentially play a significant part in your deal. If you plan on financing your car, having a preapproval and interest rate offer ahead of time will be incredibly beneficial. Check with your bank first so that you can compare interest rates and consider that when bargaining for your next car.

Purchasing your car during certain times and events can save you thousands of dollars. However, to really maximize your savings, it is important to consider all of the elements of the car buying process. Researching, shopping around and having your financing in order are just as important. Plan ahead and give yourself plenty of time. Applying those key strategies will help you get the best deal on your next car.



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