Best Times To Save Big When Buying a Car

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Great deals aren’t only on Black Friday. Score the best price on a car by buying on these days.

Whether you plan to buy a new or used car, you’re bound to spend thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. That’s why it’s important to be strategic about when you buy.

There are certain times of the year that are better for car buying than others. By shopping at the right time, you could drive off the lot in a vehicle you love while saving some major cash. Here’s what you need to know about the best times of the year to buy a car.

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When To Buy a Car

While there is no guarantee that every car and every seller will have sales at these times, chances are high they will have promotions for one or more of these dates.

Weekdays

Since many people are busy with work and other responsibilities, car dealerships aren’t as busy during the weekdays. If you walk into a dealer on a Monday or Tuesday, for example, you might have an easier time negotiating a deal because there will be less interruptions. Also, lenders are usually open during the week so you may find the financing process to be quicker and more convenient.

According to Edmunds, the best day of the week to buy a car is Monday. If dealers near you are typically closed on Sundays, however, Mondays are usually busy. You might have better luck if you buy a car on a Tuesday or Wednesday.

End of the Month or Quarter

Dealers and salespeople work to meet sales goals on a monthly and/or quarterly basis. If they haven’t met their quotas by the end of the month or end of the quarter, they may scramble and be more open to negotiating. It’s not uncommon for a salesperson to work extra hard to convince their manager to accept a customer’s offer at the end of the month or quarter when they have sales goals to achieve.

End of the Calendar Year

December, or the end of the calendar year, is a great time to buy a car. This is when dealers and salespeople want to meet their yearly sales targets. Auto manufacturers may also increase their incentives so they can attain their year-end quotas.

While you may score a good deal at the start of December, Autotrader states that New Year’s Eve is the best day of the year to buy a car. If you can swing New Year’s Eve, December 24th (Christmas Eve) and between December 27th and 30th are also good times to look for great deals. Most people are celebrating the holidays, spending time with their families, or traveling, and not at the dealerships competing for great car deals.

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When New Models Come Out

Unless you’re in the market for a brand new model, it’s in your best interest to hit the dealer as soon as new models come out. In most cases, this is in September and October. When new models are available, the older ones are usually sold at discounted car prices. This allows car dealers to fill their showroom with newer, more expensive vehicles.

By buying an older model, you can save thousands of dollars. Depending on the vehicle, you might also get most of the same features as the newer model. This is because new models are often similar to their older counterparts and only contain a few minor changes.  If you’re interested in a vehicle from the previous model year, you can always call the dealer or visit their website to learn about their inventory in advance.

Also, if you know a car is about to be discontinued, you can probably get a low price on it, especially if there are only several units left. Not only will buying a car that will be discontinued save you money, it will allow you to drive around in a “vintage” vehicle. Just keep in mind that the resale value may fall and it might be difficult to find the parts you need for a repair.

Holiday Weekends

Many car dealerships offer sales events and special promotions during long holiday weekends when people have more time on their hands and are likely to visit them. These may include zero-percent interest or other special financing deals, rebates, or cash-back incentives. You can find out about these holiday promos on dealer websites, social media, radio ads, and commercials. Generally speaking, the best holidays to buy a car include:

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • Presidents Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Fourth of July
  • Labor Day
  • Black Friday
  • Christmas Eve
  • New Year’s Eve
  • New Year’s Day

When You Graduate College

If you’re a recent college grad and need a car, don’t wait too long to buy one. Many dealers and automakers offer programs for buyers who are fresh out of college. If you wait too long, you may miss out on a good rebate or an affordable car loan offer. Usually, you’ll need to prove you’ve graduated within the last two years or will graduate within the next six months. You might also need to show that you are currently employed or have a job lined up.

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While there are ideal times to buy a car to get the best deal possible, there are also certain times when prices are likely to be highest. If you buy a car during these times, you may end up paying more than you would if you waited until one of the best times listed above.

Worst Times To Buy a Car

Start of the Month

At the beginning of the month, dealers aren’t in a hurry to meet their sales quotas. They are less likely to negotiate a deal if they know they have a whole month ahead for car sales. If you don’t buy a car that you test drive or look at, they know someone else probably will. Of course, there are a few exceptions. If a holiday sale continues early into the following month, for example, you may secure a good deal.

Saturdays

Saturday is a popular time for car buyers. After all, most people are off work and have time to go to the dealership. While buying a vehicle on a Saturday may be convenient, it will probably cost you. Not only are salespeople swamped and unlikely to give you their undivided attention, finance offices are bottlenecked and don’t have the time to help you make the best choice. You can save a great deal of cash if you buy a car on a weekday instead.

Closing Time

Don’t wait until a dealer is about to close for the day to buy a car. Contrary to popular belief, car salesmen and managers won’t give you a good deal just because they’re going to close soon. In fact, some might stay late and haggle with you until they make the sale. They might also be frustrated that you came late and fail to give you the quality service you deserve. If you want the best price along with their full attention, visit the dealer in the morning or early afternoon instead.

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In the Spring

You might be tempted to celebrate the start of spring with car shopping. Doing so, however, isn’t the best idea. Conditions like warmer weather, tax refunds, and the upcoming summer travel season make many people interested in getting a new car. Many dealers realize this and are less likely to offer deals as there is great demand for their vehicles. If it’s springtime and you want a new set of wheels, you might want to wait for a Memorial Day sale.

The Car You Want Is in High Demand

Think about the type of car you want and how many other people might also be in the market for it. For example, if you’d like an all-wheel drive SUV or heavy-duty pickup truck, your vehicle will probably be popular during December or January. Buying it in the summer when sports cars and sedans are all the rave may land you a lower price.

Your Credit Score is Low

The higher your credit score, the lower interest rate you can get, and the more favorable terms you’re likely to land. If you don’t have good credit, it may make sense to improve it before you buy a car. Pay your bills on time, reduce your debt, and don’t apply for too many new accounts at once.

While it might take weeks or months to turn your credit score around, waiting is worthwhile as it can lead to lower monthly payments and save you thousands on interest. If you buy a car with a low credit score, you may be stuck with a sky-high interest rate that forces you to spend much more on your overall car purchase.

Be Strategic About When You Buy a Car

If you can afford to wait to buy a car, plan to buy during one of the best times to lock in a good deal. Do some research and find out about upcoming deals or sales. If you plan ahead, you can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

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About The Author


Anna Baluch

Anna has written for Credit Karma, LendingTree, Experian, Freedom Debt Relief, among many other publications. She is passionate about helping people from all walks of life make good financial decisions. Anna lives in a suburb of sunny Cleveland, OH and enjoys working out, trying new restaurants, and volunteering.


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