3 Best Times to Buy a New Car If You Want a Good Deal

Best time to buy a car

I love cars, to the point of obsession. That’s why when I bought my last new car, I timed my purchase carefully.

By shopping on New Year’s Eve, I was able to knock thousands off my new car’s price. According to Kelley Blue Book, I didn’t just get a good deal; I got an unbelievable one.

When you’re shopping for a new car, just remember — timing is everything. If you have some flexibility in terms of when you want a new vehicle, read on to find out the best time to buy a car so you can save money like I did.

When is the best time to buy a car?

Car dealerships and automakers reward sales staff with cash bonuses for selling a certain amount of inventory. Salespersons are eager to hit their targets so they can get the maximum bonus and maintain job security.

Knowing some of the most important dates for salespeople can help you land a great deal. Here are the three best times to go car shopping.

1. End of the year

According to Edmunds, a leading car information company, the best time of year to buy a car is in December. Researchers found that the biggest discounts happen at the end of the year; you can get an average 6.1 percent off of the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) and additional incentives.

Those sale prices are due to a couple of different reasons:

  • Salespersons have to meet their quotas: Automakers and dealers usually set annual sales goals for staff. If they’re just a few deals away from hitting their target — and getting a big bonus — they’re more willing to drop the price to make a sale.
  • Dealerships need to clear space: The latest models are in high demand at the end of the year, which means dealers need more space for the newest versions. Brand new cars that are from the year before are often discounted.

If you’re looking for a great deal, be flexible on things like color or interior fabric. Since it’s the end of the year, dealers will likely have only a few models in stock, so you can’t be picky. If you keep an open mind, you can save much more money.

2. End of the summer

However, you don’t necessarily have to wait until December to get a good deal. The second-best time to buy a car is at the end of the summer.

During the last weeks of summer, new car models enter production, reported J.D. Power. Suddenly, a lot of the current year models are due to be out of date. To help clear room for the latest cars, automakers and dealers will run special promotions and incentives to get the older vehicles off the lot.

3. End of the month

While salespersons have annual targets to meet, there are also monthly quotas they have to hit. At the end of the month, they’re scrambling to meet their numbers and will hustle to get you a good deal and complete a sale.

When you shouldn’t buy a car

While you can time your purchase to get a better price, there are times when you should avoid buying a new car. Otherwise, you might pay a premium on the vehicle you want. Here are the three worst times to buy a car.

1. Beginning of fall

In the fall, car dealerships begin accepting new models. If you’re shopping for the latest version at this time, you’ll pay higher prices.

Since the fresh inventory just hit the lot, dealers usually don’t have an incentive to mark them down. Plus, customers are typically willing to pay the extra money to have the newest model.

2. Spring

Early in the year, many people are looking to spend their tax refunds. With this cash burning holes in their pockets, consumers often spend that extra money on new cars.

Thanks to the increased demand, dealerships do not have to offer as many discounts or promotions to sell their cars.

3. Late at night

So many sites recommend going to the dealership right before they close to get a lower price. However, some salespersons earn their income through commissions and bonuses; they’re not hourly employees. That status means they’re usually happy to stay late to negotiate a car deal.

You could show up right before closing and still spend hours at the dealer, without getting the deal you wanted.

Scoring a great deal on a new car

Buying a new car can be stressful. But by understanding the best time to buy a car, how dealerships work, and how salespersons are paid, you can plan your purchase to get the lowest price possible on a vehicle.

For more advice on car shopping, check out the complete guide to buying a car.  

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1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Finance Lender Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)
  2. Personal Loans: Fixed rates from 5.49% APR to 14.24% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 5.29% APR to 11.44% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of December 1, 2017 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 5.29% APR assumes current 1-month LIBOR rate of 1.34% plus 4.20% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.

2 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Personal Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of August 1, 2017, the one-month LIBOR rate is 1.23%. Variable interest rates range from 6.02% – 15.97% (6.02% – 15.97% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of your loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms and presence of a co-applicant. Fixed interest rates range from 5.99% – 16.24% (5.99% – 16.24% APR) based on applicable terms and presence of a co-applicant. Lowest rates shown are for eligible applicants, require a 3-year repayment term, and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
  2. Loyalty Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower has a qualifying account in existence with Citizens Bank at the time the borrower has submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, student loans or other personal loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, Citizens Bank checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI and VT. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) disclosed in the Truth-In-Lending Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan, and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  3. Automatic Payment Benefit: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
7.39% - 29.99%$1,000 - $50,000Visit Upstart
5.29% - 14.24%1$5,000 - $100,000Visit SoFi
8.00% - 25.00%$5,000 - $35,000Visit Payoff
5.99% - 16.24%2$5,000 - $50,000Visit Citizens
5.99% - 35.89%$1,000 - $40,000Visit LendingClub
5.25% - 14.24%$2,000 - $50,000Visit Earnest
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