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We Know The Best Time To Buy A Car – Do You?

best time to buy a car

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Are you shopping for a new car?

You’ve probably considered things like mileage, color, and options, and likely even put some thought into how you could afford your new car. But did you ever ask yourself about your timing?

Just like with homes and other purchases, when you buy your car matters. And choosing the best time to buy a car will affect how much more you pay for the same vehicle.

So when is the best time to buy a car, and how can you use this to your advantage? Hold off on that purchase contract until you’ve learned how to maximize your savings when buying a car.

The Year-End Sales

If you watch a lot of TV then you know car companies work hard at the end of the year to convince consumers to buy up their existing stock. And this tactic makes sense: with Christmas and the dawn of a New Year, the hope is that families in need of a new car will take this opportunity to make a change.

Why are car dealers so motivated to empty out their lots by the end of the year? Once new models start coming in, they need to free up physical space. Not to mention, most companies don’t like to carry over too much inventory into the next year as it puts additional stress on accounting.

White car next to a white Christmas tree with presents underneath.
Dealerships often offer their best prices at the end of the year.

Because of this, dealers will do pretty much anything to move this inventory out. They may offer deals so low that they could potentially lose money.

If you’re looking for guaranteed discounts, waiting for year-end sales can be the best time to buy a new car 2018. The closer you wait until December 30th or 31st to purchase your car, the more discounted the final price will be. If you’re really in search of the best deal, try waiting out the dealer with negotiations as long as possible on the day of the 31st– chances are they’ll be happy to seal the deal before 2019.

The End Of The Month Deals

When is the best time to buy a car if you can’t wait until December? At the end of any given month. The reason for this is that most dealerships and salespeople will have specific sales targets that they have to reach, and may be additionally motivated by the prospect of bonuses.

Man sitting in a new car at a dealership speaking with a salesman.
Salespeople are looking to close deals at the end of the month.

You’ll want to be savvy to maximize your savings with this technique. Start looking at vehicle listings at the beginning of the month, tracking their base listings as well as any incentives offered by the dealership. Mid-month, visit the dealership and discuss your findings as well as any additional options they may have to offer, but don’t negotiate anything until the last few days of the month. The salesperson knows you’re serious and if he or she is motivated, will close the deal at an even more significant discount.

The Old Model Deals

Just about every year car companies change something on the past version. Sometimes these are drastic changes to body shape, other times it is additional included options But no matter what, you’ll always find a better deal on a previous model year than on a newly released one.

Row of cars under a tent at a car sales lot.
Older models typically come with larger discounts.

The best time to buy a car in this scenario is when the new models arrive, typically between September-October. At this point, people are coming into the dealership in search of the coveted new models, so your search for an older one all of a sudden means an opportunity to get rid of a car that is just taking up space. Of course, you’re still getting a new car with modern features, just for significantly less than others are paying.

The Holiday Sales

Let’s say you’re shopping for a new car in spring, knowing that you can’t wait until the end of the year sales. When is the best time to buy a car without this added motivation?

Row of cars with American flags at a car sales lot.
Use holidays to your shopping advantage when buying a new car.

Wait for holiday sales, which occur periodically throughout the year. Memorial Day, Labor Day, President’s Day, and the 4thof July are all usually used as sales events by dealerships. Keep track on a calendar of the next upcoming holiday sale event, and before then, prepare by shopping online so you know what kinds of options, from color to transmission, are available for your preferred vehicle. Compare listing prices on this car for a full month, so you can see if you are offered any specific incentives that cut your cost down further. From there, you can attend the holiday sale knowing what it is you want, and just how good of a deal you’re being offered.

The Weekday Purchase

Most people shop for new cars on weekends which makes sense: you need time to look, test drive, and negotiate, which can take all day. The best time to buy a new car 2018 will be a weekday, as you’ll get more attention from each salesperson with more incentives thrown your way to close the deal on a slow day. Make your weekday purchase towards the end of the month, or at the very beginning, to increase your maximum savings.

Person at a table with a car key filling out a paper form.
Skip the weekends for the greatest negotiating power.

The Slow Process

But when is the best time to buy a car if you’re shopping at both dealerships and from independent sellers? Before you need a new car. The slower you can drag out the process of buying, the more the seller is going to want to motivate you. They know you are interested because you keep sticking around looking at the vehicle and asking questions and so they may be willing to discount the price even more just to close the deal for good.

A caveat of this method is that you have to start shopping before you need a car as there is no guarantee it will work with any given seller. However, if they are having trouble moving their inventory, they will eventually offer you a better price. You also will need to be more flexible with what car you want, as other buyers may come in and offer the listing price.

How To Save Money On Your New Car

By learning when the best time to buy a car is, you’re getting something you need – transportation – at a discounted rate. But you don’t want to blow all those savings on your car as soon as you get it. These three tips will help you save money for as long as you own your car.

1. Shop around for car insurance

Did you buy the first car you saw? No, so why would you buy the first car insurance option you find? With The Zebra, you can compare car insurance quotes, making sure you get the best deal with the coverage you need.

2. Keep up with maintenance

Has your car’s service light been illuminated for months? Many people drive around thinking that so long as their car is still working, everything is okay. But without regular service checkups and maintenance, you never know what could be going wrong under the hood. Ask dealerships about maintenance packages as some may offer free or discounted maintenance for a given period of time.

Woman hugging the hood of a new car.
Don’t stop saving once the car is yours.

3. Check your tires

Get an air pressure gauge or find one at your local gas station so you always know that your tires are properly inflated and not losing any air. Check tire treads at least every few months so you can monitor for undue wear, small slits or bulges in the tires.

If you want to save the most money when purchasing your vehicle, it’s crucial to know the best time to buy a car. Use one or all of these techniques to make sure you are never spending more than you have to.


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