When is the Best Time to Buy a Car?

by Car Negotiation Coach

When should you buy a car to get the best price? Look at the infographic below to see how your timing can affect car prices. And if you want to know the best specific date for what you are buying, click the Get Started button above for a free recommendation.

As you’re reading, just remember that regardless of when you buy, you’ll find the best car prices online, not at the dealership.

  Click the infographic below to enlarge.

best time to buy a car

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Best Time of Year to Buy a Car

You can find the best prices on seasonal vehicles off-season.  Convertibles and sports cars can be cheaper in the fall and early winter because of less demand. The weather also plays an impactSUV’s might be discounted in the summer when gas prices are up and people aren’t as concerned about finding four wheel drive cars to navigate wintery roads.

If you’re looking for a home on the road, the best time to buy an RV in colder climates is when the snowbirds have headed south for the Winter.  Demand drops off and sellers know they are going to have to go through the hassle of winterizing and storing the RV for the off season.   Conversely, in parts of the South, the best time to buy an RV is in late Spring after buyers migrate back north and there is less local demand.

The fall months are also good for sales at the end of a model year.  Different manufacturers end model years at different times, but many change years in September or October.  Dealers want to get rid of old models to make room for new ones. And you can get especially good deals if the body style is changing.  Just be careful to weigh the discount on an end of model-year car.  As soon as you enter a new year, that car’s resale value will take a hit because it’s labeled as a whole year older.

Best Month to Buy a Car

December is a great month to buy a car because dealerships are desperate to lure shoppers on the lot while most people are preparing for the holidays and spending all their extra cash on gifts.  It’s also the best time of year to buy a car because dealerships are trying to hit their annual sales quotas and related bonuses.  Dealerships have both month-end and year-end targets, so December means big discounts.  And if you don’t want to stay home on the holidays, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve are typically two of the best days of the year to find deals.

Best Day to Buy a Car

Even if you forget everything else, remember this statement:  The best time to buy a car is the last couple days of the month.  Manufacturers set monthly targets for car dealerships.  If car salesmen and dealerships meet their monthly sales goals they can earn bonuses.  So if you time your car purchase towards the end of the month you could end up buying from a car salesman who is close to hitting his quota and earning a bonus payment.  This bonus may be much bigger than the loss he takes on a single sale and as a result he may be willing to provide a bigger discount to you in order to earn that bonus.

And interestingly enough, the second best time to buy a car is the first couple days of the month.  Because the end of the month trick is widely known, salesmen are usually pretty busy with buyers that have waited.  As a result, the first couple days of the month mean fewer buyers and idle salesmen may be willing to deal.  Salesmen may also want to get a jump on their monthly sales quotas so they’re not under as much pressure at the end of the month.

You can also check Edmunds predicted price trends which forecasts whether prices are headed up or down for most models over the next 30 days.

Best Time to Buy a Car

Don’t go out of your way for this one, but some dealerships offer salesmen a small bonus ($100 or so) for selling the first car of the day on a Saturday or holiday to encourage sales. So if you are one of the first buyers of the day you may notice a small benefit.

What’s the Best Way to Buy a Car?

That’s easy, don’t go to the dealership at all!  Get car prices from multiple local dealers and ask them to compete with each other over email.  I explain how in my free guide, How to Buy a Car at the Best Possible Price.

What if You Need a Car Now?

As much as you might like to time your car purchase to get the best deal, it’s not always possible.  Sometimes an accident or unexpected repair may make waiting difficult.  In these cases, you can still get car prices online and make car dealers compete.  And check out Edmunds car incentives and rebates to see which manufacturers are currently running promotions.

European Delivery Programs

Here’s a final added tidbit.  If you are considering buying a high-end luxury car, why not take a trip to Europe?  While timing a luxury car purchase may not net you savings on the car itself, you can save on your vacation spending.  Manufacturers like Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, and Volvo all offer vacation packages that allow you to pick up your car in Europe and tour the country side.   As for the best time of year, Spring is a great time to visit Europe while the weather is comfortable but the high-priced summer tourist season as not begun yet.

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