You’ve decided it’s time to buy a new car. Maybe your clunker has broken down one too many times, or perhaps you’re ready to upgrade to a newer model. Your reasons are yours, but the problem is universal: how do you know when the best time to make that crucial purchase is?
Luckily for you, many universally acknowledged nuggets of wisdom can help you pick the best time to do your car shopping. Let’s explore the best ones below.
Best day to buy a car
When is the best day of the week to buy a car? Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are generally considered the best days to shop for a car in person because there will be less customer traffic.
Contrary to what you might think, you may want to avoid visiting the dealership on the weekend. Think about it, if you show up on a busy Saturday, the salespeople will have much less time to spend with you. You won’t get as much opportunity to negotiate if your salesperson is trying to get your purchase over with so they can see another customer.
Similarly, you might have been advised to arrive at a car dealership later in the day so that the salespeople will be in a bigger rush to give you the deal you want. This may not be the case at all; they might be in a hurry to close up shop, but you’ll feel that time pressure as much as the salesperson does.
It's better to buy at the end of the month
You might have heard that car dealerships often have quotas for their sales staff, with big bonuses for those who meet their quota. Mike Rabkin, founder of From Car to Finish, says, “When a vehicle needs help selling, the end of the month is a good time to buy… because sales managers at dealerships have a monthly quota to hit and get compensated on whether they hit it or not.”
You can take advantage of this system by showing up to the dealership later in the month when more employees are feeling the pressure to make a sale.
One thing to keep in mind: the dealership’s sales schedule might not sync perfectly with the actual calendar. Their sales month or quarter might end a few days before the last day of the month in question, meaning if you show up on that day, they’ll be at the start of their next sales period.
Experts disagree on whether it’s safer to show up on the last day of the month or a few days before; regardless, your best bet is to plan your shopping trip for some time during the last week of the month.
Best month to buy a car
Another excellent strategy is to try buying a new car in the last few months of the year.
What are the best months to buy a car? November and December are the best months to buy a car. This trend is likely due to a combination of dealerships needing to clear out older inventory to prepare for the next year’s models, and the need to meet quarterly and yearly sales quotas.
And if you’re looking for used cars, it’s even more essential to visit the dealership in October through December. Customer trade-ins are at their highest in these months, which means a better selection and better prices for you, as the dealership is trying to meet its year-end goals.
Best holidays to buy a car
Surely you’ve seen all the over-hyped commercials for holiday “blowout” sales at car dealerships. But are those amazing deals real, or just a scam to get customers in the door during a three-day weekend?
These holiday sales are indeed the real thing. Car manufacturers offer special financing or cashback deals during holiday weekends like Memorial Day, Black Friday, New Year’s Eve, President’s Day, and Labor Day, which allows dealerships to offer incentives to their customers in turn.
Black Friday and Veteran’s Day generally have 33% more deals than average. New Year’s Eve deals can save the average customer 8.5%.
Interestingly, studies have shown that the 4th of July is the worst holiday to buy a car.
But for the most part, you can usually trust that a holiday sale will be an excellent time to buy a new car. So, if you can stomach the huge crowds, feel free to head to the dealership.
This Year’s Models when Next Year’s are Released
Finally, if you’re looking to buy a new car, the best time to buy it is when a new model is coming out.
According to Albert Engel, executive vice president for Valley National Bank, “End-of-model-years (leftovers) get the best discounts, as the dealer is paying to inventory these units, and they need to free up space and cash for incoming, newer models.”
So if you want that 2020 model, do your research on when the 2021 model comes out, and be prepared to visit your dealer when the newly outdated model is marked down.
And there you have it. If you’re in the market for a new car, your best bet for a good deal is to follow one or more of these timing tips.
However, keep in mind that you may not be able to fit a trip to the auto dealership into a weekday or wait several months for a holiday sale. Take these suggestions with a grain of salt; the time to buy a car might be when the need arises and when you’re motivated to buy. Also, many dealerships and car manufacturers have deals running on random days of the year.
But if you can fit one of these timing suggestions into your purchase schedule, the odds are good that you’ll score a better deal than most.