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 Suddenly, a lot of the current year models are due to be out of date.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.
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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