When Is the Best Time To Buy a Car?

FT Contributor
A couple speaking to a car salesman about buying a car.

If you’re in the market for a new vehicle, you’ve probably started to consider the type of car and capabilities you want. As with any big purchase, you’ve probably also considered your budget. For some individuals, saving up money to buy a car can be difficult. Fortunately, there are times when you can buy a car at a discounted price.

Dealerships host numerous events throughout the year where they offer their inventory at a discount. From sales events to holiday markdowns, dealerships in your area may have sales that offer the vehicle you want to buy at a price you can afford.

Additionally, there are certain days of the week and times of the day when it’s better to buy a car. Finding the best price for your next vehicle is all about conducting careful research. Pay attention to the sales going on at dealerships in your neighborhood, and be prepared to negotiate. This will help you understand whether you’re being offered the best deal.

Table of Contents

Year-End Sales Events

Many dealerships host year-end sales events. This allows them to clear their inventory and bring in newer models, but it also gives their salespeople a chance to reach their annual sales goals. October, November, and December are months during which a car dealership will typically host such an event.

Car salespeople have quotas they must meet to earn bonuses, or in some cases, maintain their jobs. A quota is a dollar amount they have to bring into the dealership yearly or quarterly. Many salespeople will have these quotes in their minds at the end of the year, making them more willing to negotiate the price of any particular vehicle.

New Year’s Eve is another popular time to negotiate a deal on a new car. Salespeople may be on the verge of making a sale that will allow them a hefty bonus, making them more willing to negotiate a deal with you.

End of the Month

Car salespeople also have monthly quotas they have to meet, making the end of the month a popular time to buy a car. Note that certain dealership’s deadlines won’t always sync up with the last day of the month. Often, they happen a few days sooner, so keep that in mind when planning to head to the dealership for a favorable deal.

Early in the Week

Many people flock to buy a car during the weekend because they have plenty of free time, and buying a car can take a while. That’s why weekends are some of the busiest times for car dealerships. Therefore, shopping for a car on a weekday is less hectic.

The best time to shop for a car is early in the week. You’ll get more specialized attention from a salesman, who will have more time to work with you on negotiating a deal.

Model Changeovers

Cars are constantly being upgraded. With every year comes a new model with updated safety features, better gas mileage, and a new ad campaign. Car dealerships have limited space, but they want to make room for the latest and greatest offerings, so they’ll host a sale to get rid of the outdated vehicles.

Check your local dealership for information on when they plan to change over their model offerings. As the new cars come in, the old ones have to go, often at a discounted price.

Holiday Sales Events

Perhaps the most well-known time to buy a car is the sales period before a few major holidays. The most common holidays that car dealerships advertise sales for include Memorial Day, Black Friday, President’s Day, and Independence Day, but there is often some sort of sale going on for virtually every holiday. Typically, all of a dealership’s inventory will be offered at a discounted price, including their latest and greatest offerings.

These holiday sales are some of the easiest deals to take advantage of, but understand that the dealership will most likely be very busy during these events. In some cases, the dealership may be so busy that you never get a chance to sit down with a salesperson and negotiate a deal.

Negotiating the Best Possible Deal

Negotiation is a vital part of buying a vehicle. Whether you’re looking at a used car or a brand new model, it’s important to negotiate so that you can ensure you’re getting the best price.

Don’t just buy a car for the sticker price. Salespeople are trained to try and sell cars at a higher profit margin, but even sales quotas can be negotiated on both new and used cars.

To be sure you’re getting the best deal, research the car you want in order to see what its typical value is. Sites like Kelley Blue Book can provide you with this information. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be able to intelligently negotiate with any salesperson to get the best price on a car.

Never feel pressured to buy a car. It’s important to make a purchase at the time that’s right for you and your budget.

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