When is the best time to buy a car?

When is the best time to buy a car?


If you're planning to buy a new car and have some flexibility on the timing, your choice of month, day or even hour may influence the deal you get.

Before we explore timing, it's important to stress that it's not as important as the work you do ahead of your trip to the dealer: deciding how much you can afford to spend, researching car choices, putting a value on your trade-in and obtaining a preapproval for a car loan.

When to Visit the Car Dealer

Optimal timing comes down to one question: When is a dealer going to be most motivated to give up a little more to make a sale? Analysis of more than 12 million transactions by online auto advisor TrueCar over a five-year period may help answer that question.

You may get your biggest discount from sticker price in the fall and winter. This is likely for two reasons. First, that's a less busy time of year for most dealers. Secondly, they may be eager to unload inventory to make way for next year's models.

On the other hand, spring is less favorable. Dealership traffic picks up as shoppers who waited through winter for warmer car-shopping weather head out, many of them flush with extra spending cash from income tax refunds. It adds up to happy days for dealers who see little need for extra discounts to reach their sales targets.

Of course, depending on your situation, it may not be practical to wait for months to buy your next car. Even so, you may still be able to use the calendar and the clock to your advantage.

Try shopping:

  • Earlier in the week. Dealers tend to be less busy on Mondays and Tuesdays than on weekends or later in the week, which sets you up to receive greater attention.
  • At the end of the month, quarter or year. Salespeople and dealerships usually have sales targets. If you stroll into the showroom close to the deadline, you may find they're highly motivated to give you an attractive deal.
  • Later in the day. If it's been a slow day, sales reps and their managers might be so glad to see you they'll do more to score a sale.

If you really want to put timing on your side, you might try for a triple whammy—shopping late in the day on a Monday or Tuesday that coincides with the end of the month, quarter or year.

Timing Isn't Everything for Buying a Car

Remember: Timing can help, but doing your homework on your budget, your choice of a car and financing options, and diligent shopping for incentives, rebates or warranty costs can pay off under all circumstances.

If you've done your research, and understand a fair price for the vehicle you hope to purchase but the dealer won't budge on pricing, don't be afraid to wait for a better opportunity.

Just don't give up hope because there's a good chance you can find a vehicle to fit your needs if you're willing to be patient and shop around.


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