Best Times to Buy Cars & Vehicles

Babar Beacon

Written by Babar Beacon

⊂ Updated: 05/03/2019 ⊃

The best time to buy a car is when you need it actually – It is that simple car buying philosophy. But if being a savvy shopper you want to win a best deal for your next car, then there are certain times through year which can get you more than $5000 car saving. To put it together, as for almost all industries, the best time to buy cars and vehicles is generally the day of Monday & Tuesday, every month end, the end of year – December, just before the launch of new model and obviously, the shopping holiday’s sales to get best value of your dollars spending.

(words:4970  Pages:13  It can take 15 minutes reading)

The best time to buy a car is when you need it actually – It is that simple car buying philosophy. But if being a savvy shopper you want to win the best deal for your next car, then there are certain times through year which can get you more than $5000 car saving.

Buying a car with a market search, homework and in certain days and months can be as savvy as you wish. The prices of cars and other home use vehicles fluctuate throughout the year in response to period ends, seasons, general shopping holidays, dealers & manufacturers’ decisions especially about pricing, technology & new models and govt policies at large.

This is the industry that performs intuitively to make our Universal Shopping Best Time Formulas more relevant.

You can find expert opinions and stuff on the best car buying times more than any other commodity. There are as many best times as the cars and the days in a year. And oddly almost all experiences are valued and right in the car market.

Content Qs

♦ Is December a good time to buy a car? What is the best time to buy a car cheaper? (Ronald J. Beadle

♦  Is it better to buy a car at the end of the month? (David Mabon)

♦  How do I get the best deal on a car? Do they offer car deals on Black Friday? (Frank Seward)

♦  How much will a dealer come down on a new car? How to negotiate with a car dealer? (Lisa R. Belford)

So to make it simple and useful, we tried our best to curate all the best times when a savvy shopper can get the best deal – save time, energy and money on the next car purchase.

In this detailed chapter, you will find a best times list for both new and used cars separately discussed, the saving percentages, how to buy best – tricks and smart hacks, how to deal your dealer like an expert and lastly, where to buy best – insights of the car market and places to check-in, options from new to used vehicles’ top platforms around you and online.

Your best time to buy anything savvy is when most people are not buying and do when most people are not doing – shop with less crowd and off-season

(Tweet the best times to buy cars & vehicles)

All the stuff is in a savvy shopper viewpoint to facilitate you greatly – get the best car on the best price.

You ready? Here we go.

SO, WHEN IS THE BEST  TIME TO BUY NEW CARS?

These are certain times to get the best bargains on brand new cars.

1. EARLY IN THE WEEK: THE DAY OF MONDAY AND TUESDAY ARE SLOWEST FOR DEALER

Our first best time is every early weekdays – especially the days of Monday and Tuesday when you can get a higher level of dealer’s attention.  The Truecar study of more than 12 million car transactions shows that Monday is the best day with 8.10% savings on MSRP and Friday is the worst day of the week with 7.49% average percentage off MSRP. These savings are added up especially if you are going to buy a luxury vehicle.

The dealerships are less crowded – less customer traffic means more they welcome you. So early in the week, you would be treated more nicely and probably are in a better position to negotiate a good bargain on Monday.

Whereas, MoneyAdviceService suggests the other best day in a week, for a reason, is the closing day of the week – Friday. Friday is the last day of week and dealers are keen to meet their weekly targets so they can sell the car on your terms.

2. END OF MONTH: LAST WEEK PURCHASE

The end days of every month; the last week is the period when managers at dealerships are trying to meet their monthly sales targets – it means they need you more than you need them. They might be short of targets some cars or even if they are not, the less customer traffic will push them to sell you and close books at higher sales figures.

The dealership is short of their monthly sales quota or period end targets and you are on the floor to buy one from their stale inventory – the best thing you can ever imagine to win a great deal on your favorite car.

Generally, the car industry follows the calendar months for bookkeeping however there is also a practice on some dealerships to close the month-end period before the calendar month, so you need to know precisely about your target dealerships month closings.

3. END OF THE MODEL YEAR: JUST BEFORE THE LAUNCH OF NEW MODEL

The third best time to buy a car is very before the launch of a new model by the company. The car companies usually announce a new model a couple of months before the actual launch or even years before for some special models. When the new model is to come, dealerships and manufacturers, both want to get rid of previous models.

Manufactures want the whole market attention towards their new model when launched whereas the dealers are intended to make room for the new model lots. It is the time when people are less interested to go for the previous model when new is coming – make savvier the situation for deal grabbers.

The dealers can offer clearance sales upto 25% off and the manufacturers’ sponsor discounts are also common on new model launch days. So it is one of the most popular times for deal hunters to find and take the best deal on their favorite cars.

WHEN NEW MODELS OF CARS ARE LAUNCHED?

According to Statista, the projected number of new models launches in the market of the USA for 2019 is 47, 23 models in 2022 and 31 new models of cars in 2025. Every new model trembles the car market and especially its previous model position.

There is no specific time frame for new models every year, however generally car companies announce new models at the end of the year and launch somewhere in fall next year.

The summer season from August to September is when automakers generally make the most decided transition into new models. However, because of no unified rule, the Mark lines can greatly help you to be well informed about the car industry’s upcoming models and update news.

4. END OF CALENDAR & FINANCIAL YEAR: MONTH OF NOVEMBER & DECEMBER

Another period-end best time to buy cars is the end of the calendar and financial year. The months of November and December are the slowest for dealerships and they are doing efforts to get their aforementioned quotas.

The second factor which influences the end month in favor of buyers is the anticipations for new models in New Year – uncertainty pushes the dealer to offer special deals.

Edmunds‘ car transaction data shows the month of December as the perfect storm for savvy shoppers to get the best year-end sales. According to Truecar, the best time of year and the best month to buy vehicles is December with an average 6.82% discount off MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price) and the worst month is February with a 5.78% discount off MSRP.

On the other hand, the financial year ends on different months in different countries. In the USA, the financial year is from 1st October to 30th September; whereas one of the biggest car manufacturers Japan’s financial year starts on 1st April and ends 31st March.

The car companies can offers promotions to meet their year-end targets or to clear the stale inventory.

5. END OF THE CAR DESIGN OR LIFE CYCLE: TECHNOLOGY OR FEATURES UPGRADING

The end of a car design or the announcement to redesign a model is what makes the current model inventory slowest in dealerships. People don’t want to buy the old shape model when a new design of that model is just to hit the market. This is the time when deal hunters can find the best deals on the model with the old design. (No major change but just redesign).

The other related best time is when a company announces to discontinue a specific model. It can be to replace it with another model or because of major technological up-gradation they want to re-launch it under a different model name – SUVs to replace sedans because of market trends, it loses the people’s confidence for leftover inventory.

If you are not a trendsetter or you need a new car to use and no resell purpose then it is the time to negotiate on the leftover inventory of discontinued model.

Everything that is anticipated better in technology or design, people are more likely to go for that, making room for the current model in the market.

6. THE BIG SHOPPING EVENTS & HOLIDAYS

The shopping holidays and events such as Black Friday, Presidents Day or Cyber Monday are popular for home products, electronics, tech, and clothing categories but the market is now experiencing special offers from car dealerships as well.

You can see special deals on car prices and other incentives to attract people to these popular shopping holidays. If you have a plan to buy a car and you can survive the crowd, it is a good idea to visit a showroom or check online on the coming shopping holidays, they can have some special offer for your car purchase.

To benefit maximum from these shopping events, you have to prepare yourself, do market research, have a plan and work out your finance options (approval of auto loan).

  • Black Friday: Celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November every year – the biggest retail shopping day especially in America after Thanksgiving Day. With amazing deals of upto 90% off on HD TV or your favorite brand denim, it can be the one of best times to look for your car deal if combined with the year-end model strategy.
  • Presidents Day: The United States’ official federal Presidents Day comes on third Monday in February which is the worst month of car savings, but if you need a car in February then the Presidents Day in America is better to visit a showroom.
  • Labor Day: Labor Day is celebrated (in the USA) on the first Monday of September – almost all offices, banks, and institutions are closed. It is better time to check-in a dealership in search of your car, maybe you can close a deal on Labor Day but it will surely help you to look multiple options available in the showrooms with fewer crowds and better treatment.

The RD sees Labor Day as one of the special days for the car industry – it is the time of year when manufacturers mostly start rolling out the new models of next year. 

It is the time when a car giant like Toyota is ending its August Sales Events and other popular companies such as Honda, Lexus and Nissan are offering special deals especially on Convertibles at the end of summer vacation and start of winter season.

If you are looking for some amazing deals on cars and SUVs, USNEWS curated the best deals to buy on Labor Day for you. 

  • The Memorial Day celebrated as a federal holiday on the last Monday of May. The mid-season and end of winter is the best time to look for some SUVs and 4-wheel-drive vehicles.
  • And the July 4th is observed as American Federal Independent Day, the holiday to experience a good mix of new launching models and current year cars. It is a good time for car comparison and selecting from the vast options available in the market.

Because of the recent slowdown in the car industry, you can see special offers in prices and finance options on Independence Day sales as dealerships at that time are eager to push out their stale inventory lots.

7. THE MID-SEASON: UNPOPULAR MONTH OF MAY

The season when fewer people visit car showrooms is better to get a good bargain

It is the time of mid-season when people are going to sell their SUVs and 4-wheel-drive cars and with a shopping holiday of Memorial Day the month of May can be one of the best times to buy your car.

People use to visit dealerships and buy cars at the start of the season. This is the mid-season of year that experiences less customer traffic in showrooms – making it the time to look for a better bargain. Visit your dealer at the end week of May that is combined with Memorial Day sales.

8. WHEN DEALERS OR MANUFACTURERS OFFER SPECIAL DEALS

From month end offers, stale inventory sales to year-end clearance and previous model promotions, dealerships make special offers throughout the years. On the other hand, manufacturers also sponsor some special promotions on year ends and for previous models.

These deals either can be time-specific or any time throughout the year. So be well informed and when they offer it can be the best time for you to avail as early as possible.

In addition to the car pricing, there can be other related special deals on APR car financing, special lease, cash-back incentives by dealers or third-party organized events such as auto shows.

In the economic downtimes, rainy / snow season and other situations in which money is tight and people are desperate to sell their vehicles, it is the best time buy from an immediate seller at a great price.

9. WHEN PEOPLE ARE DESPERATE TO SELL: RAINY SEASON, RECESSION, OR UNEMPLOYMENT BOOM

Go to the shop when money is tight or people are desperate to sell.

In the economic downtimes, rainy / snow season and other situations in which money is tight and people are desperate to sell their vehicles, it is the best time buy from an immediate seller at a great price.

There can be many reasons for slowly down – people experiencing a recession, migrating from one place to another, govt policy affect the buying power, inflation in the economy, fuel prices hike or other reason which creates uncertainty in the market. All these situations reduce the demand for cars; put pressure on dealers and the car prices drop. You can have a better price on favorable terms in this situation.

10. THE TIME BARGAIN: BOOK “NOW” AND GET 2-3 MONTHS “LATER”

If you ask me one genuine hack to apply on everything, I will recommend this Best Time Strategy. Go slow and be patient, make your merchant/dealer/ server relax, your deal will get you.

From shopping on Amazon, flight reservation to car booking, you can apply this trick everywhere. Here for the best car bargain, book your car if possible, at least 2-3 months in advance and wait to get your car at the best possible price.

The other aspect of this strategy is to relax the time pressure on you for immediate shopping – surely it is not going to get you the best deal. It is the Time Bargain which you can use in your favor just being a prudent shopper who makes decisions in advance.

11. OTHER BEST TIMES: YOU SHOULD KEEP IN MIND

  • In summer, people are more intended to buy Convertible Vehicles such as Jeep Wrangler or Ford Mustang GT – high demand in summer, so in winter you can have a better bargain on these convertibles.
  • In the winter season, 4/4 cars and off-road vehicles are in high demand, so the summer season is good to look for some 4-wheel-drive cars.
  • New number plates come in between March and September, it put pressure on dealers as people buy less in February and August – making the best season for you to buy car on great discount (if you don’t mind the old number plates – might affect its resale value. This point is more relevant to Europe)
  • Before a new model launches, it is a good time but here we have other related best time. 3-4 months after the launch of the new model can get you a good deal on a new model being in the late majority.
  • The last days of every quarter is also one of the best times to go for car shopping
  • As per TrueCar analysis, we can categorize the months for car types – the best time to buy Midsize SUVs is May, Large Trucks in October, Midsize and Compact cars in November and for Small & Premium SUVs it’s the month of December.

If you want a truly amazing deal on car, celebrate your New Year’s Eve in a showroom – this is the best time of year, the month of December, Special Sales Event and closing week of a calendar year to win a saving upto 8.3% off MRSP.

WHEN IS THE BEST  TIME TO BUY USED CARS?

As a savvy shopper, used cars are one of the best options to consider for your purchase. Used cars can get you the amazing deals more than new cars. If you are not a trendsetter or new model enthusiastic then you will find your deal in used cars and vehicles.

Used and new cars share the best times as a combined car industry and market. All the best time of buying new cars discussed above also apply to used cars with some added benefits. As at the launch of a new model, previous models drop prices in showrooms, they drop even more on roads. So never overlook the slightly used cars with like-new conditions when you want to have a savvy deal.

The following are discussed some points, in brief, to get our best times to buy used cars.

  • The USNEWS suggests the best time to buy used cars – the time when you need one and you have found the best match in the used market to your wish list.
  • Early weeks of days especially Monday and Tuesday are the best time of week to buy used cars
  • The other best time to buy second-hand cars is the end days of the month when dealers want to push their sales to meet monthly sales targets
  • As for new, the best time of year to buy used cars is the last month of the year – December because of calendar year-end and closing special offers from dealers.
  • When the new model of a car is being launched, its previous model on roads affects hard and get to its knees. So, before and after the launch of a new model, the previous model is the best option to check.
  • The other best time is general shopping holidays and events such as Black Friday, Labor Day and Year End Eve when generally special offers out there in the market on used cars as well. And avoid shopping one on the family gathering holidays such as Father’s Day, Mother’s Day and Easter Sunday, etc.
  • The other best time is Shining Day – when you can check the actual condition of the car and in good weather, missing some dents and scratches are low. So visit your dealer on a nice day to scrutinize the car the best. These are the days when you can have more sellers out there in market so more sellers push prices down.
  • Used cars deals in off-season are great. As discussed earlier, in summer, people are more intended to buy Convertible Vehicles such as Jeep Wrangler or Ford Mustang GT – high demand in summer, so in winter you can have a better bargain on these convertibles.

In the winter season, 4/4 cars and off-road vehicles are in high demand, so the summer season is good to look for some 4-wheel-drive cars and SUVs.

  • Winter is better to buy used care than summer.
  • The time when companies announce a new model with major changes, upgrading technologies, and features – people tend to sell their existing vehicles and trade-in for a new model.
  • The other best time for used cars is around any special offer on new cars or special sales events or auto shows – the science behind is simple, when people buy deals on new cars from these sales events they sell their old ones. Find an immediate seller and show him/her cash.

In the winter season, 4/4 cars and off-road vehicles are in high demand, so the summer season is good to look for some 4-wheel-drive cars and SUVs.

(Tweet the best time to buy cars & vehicles)

HOW TO BUY BEST?  CARS SAVING HACKS

Besides the best times, there are other considerations and factors which can influence the car prices so you need to be prudent in the process and set to the best bargaining position.

How to buy the best car is depends upon the chemistry of multiple factors and here are the expert tips to win the game.

1. MARKET INTELLIGENCE, HOME WORK AND BUDGETING

The first task on car savvy shopping is the market information and homework. Market search is important before going to shop because there are so many companies, cars, and models available in the market. You need to find out the best one for you.

  • What car matches your requirements, interest, and budget?
  • You better visit dealers and test drive to finally decide which one is best for you.
  • Ask the salesmen, consult with friends and family, and make an online search to have in-depth knowledge about a car.
  • What are the pros and cons of a particular car and what are the seasonal limitations, new and used prices?
  • In fact, it is the most important pre-shopping phase that will get you the best deal later, so take your time to get information about local dealers, their incentives and upcoming models.
  • The budget you want to allocate to a new car and other options to finance your car such as auto loans, credit ratings, and credit approvals are all part of this phase.
  • Visit multiple dealers and get a better idea of their prices.
  • There is no thumb role for car budget to apply with everyone, but experts suggest that car payment should not be more than 15% of your take-home income/pay. And if leasing, it should not exceed 10%. Here is an Affordability Calculator to help you work out a suitable budget for your next car.
  • A car’s total operating expense such as fuel cost, repair, maintenance cost, insurance, govt token, and taxes – it should not be more than 20% of your take-home pay.
  • With best times throughout the year, the second most important factor is your power of negotiation with dealer and salesmen – prepare best before visiting your dealership.
  • It is better to buy in cash, if you don’t then get the car finance preapproved.

2. ONLY CASH BUY

It is always better to buy your car for cash. Car is a major investment in a person’s normal life and if you can afford, try to cash buy your vehicle. It will save you in the long run, financially and socially.

When you buy a car through auto-loan, you are ready to double burden – interest-paying upto 6.90% APR and it is being occurred on an asset which is depreciating its value over 15%.  So it is better to wait for the time when you have the cash to pay for a new car.

The car industry and other stakeholders don’t like this idea because it would reduce the demand as well as the added source of regular interest income but as a savvy shopper, you have to make the decision better for you.

3. DEALS ON “STALE” INVENTORY

Stale inventory is the car dealers’ market term – when the car lot stays on the floor of a dealer more than its “turn time” it becomes stale inventory. The dealers are intended to offer deals on these stale inventory lots to make room for fresh trade and to get the time targets.

If you can find out your vehicle from such stale inventory they can likely offer you a discount upto 10% of the market price.

4. BETTER NEGOTIATION AT PERIOD END

The dealer’s month-end and year-end position is a good point to guess smartly first when negotiating on the floor (there are many signals which can help you know precisely). If a dealership is short of their period end targets then take control of the situation and try to close on better terms.

Search the market and get a hand-on of knowledge before heading to a dealership. You can check your dealer and test drive earlier in the month so that you have done half of the work already to close your deal without wasting time on month-end or year-end.

5. PRICE AND MODEL COMPARISON

This point is related to the best time for the new model launch.

You are looking for a savvy deal on the previous model when the company is going to launch its new model; you need to smartly compare both model’s features and technology. What is better in the new model and how it is different in terms of advanced features and technology? To analyze both models you can visit the nearest dealership, make an online search or inquire from some car experts.

This price and model comparison will give you a better idea for your final decision. If the new model is with nominal changes and no kind of major upgrading, then it never takes a long time to grab a deal on the previous model in the showroom.

Book your car at least 2-3 months in advance. Before buying a particular model, rent it for a week and test drive to know it better. Try to keep it decent and genuine – avoid most and extra-factory fitted options

(Tweet car buying pro-tips)

6. OTHER PRO-TIPS

  • Book your car at least 2-3 months in advance.
  • Always consider savvy times when the market is slow and dealers are desperate to sell.
  • Before buying a particular model, rent it for a week and test drive to know it better.
  • If a car is staying for more than 3-4 months in a showroom, there are more chances to negotiate a better bargain for that car (you can get the idea looking at the manufacturing date exposed on car).
  • You can find other stale inventory by searching online listings on popular car sites such as Cars.com or Autotrader.com – older the car is listed, better to negotiate.
  • Try to keep it decent and genuine – avoid most and extra-factory fitted options because they lose value rapidly in this fast-moving technology.
  • Manual vehicle is cheaper than automatic.
  • The car invoice price is not always true what dealers cost a car, so it matters not much in negotiation.
  • Edmunds suggests to first negotiating for a car on email, there are chances of low price quote.
  • Try to sell your old car yourself using online portal and auction sites – avoid often trade-in value loses by smart dealers.
  • Be nice with the salesman, walk and talk with confidence, inquire freely and keep your options open.
  • If you have already done the pre-market study then use it, otherwise use your cell phone to verify instantly what they tell you negotiating.
  • Take your time, read the complete documentation before signing the final contract.

WHERE TO BUY    THE BEST CAR DEALS?

After you have come a long way to make a savvy deal for your next car, it is time to have an idea about top car companies & dealers, dealership and online options to buy the car.

TOP TEN AUTO DEALERSHIPS

Here are the top ten auto dealers in America as per their number of units sold in the previous year. (Check out the list of all auto dealerships in USA) They have their franchises in all cities and regions so you can search & locate them around you. It’s a better idea to find a local dealer online – whether for new cars or used and visit personally.

TOP TEN ONLINE SITES TO BUY VEHICLES

Finding the best car online is a good option especially when you are looking for a used car. Here are the top online car buy & sell sites:

  1. AutoTrader
  2. CarsDirect
  3. Hemmings
  4. Autolist
  5. CarGurus
  6. AutoTempest
  7. Kelley Blue Book
  8. TrueCar
  9. Craigslist
  10. Vroom

THE TAKEAWAYS

It is all about timing, you have to know precisely when to wait and when to act quickly

  1. Cars are cheaper about 10% early in the week – the Monday and Tuesday are slowest on dealerships.
  2. The last week of a month, the November and December are savvier to buy new cars.
  3. Shop current model when new model is launched and the end of a card design or life cycle of a model.
  4. Shop when people are desperate to sell – rainy season, recession, or unemployment boom.
  5. The 4/4 cars and off-road vehicles are cheaper in summer season and midsize SUVs in May, Large trucks in October.
  6. Work out your requirements, interest, budget and seasons and compare models.
  7. Prefer to buy on cash, look for stale inventory in showrooms and get your finance pre-approved.
  8. Take your time, check and drive test the car, read the complete documentation before signing the final contract.

If you have any questions, comments, feedback, or tips I missed, we’d love to hear it below!
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The author is co-founder and editor at Promolily. Has a practical knowledge and experience of e-commerce, online marketing and retailing.

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