How Long Does it Take to Buy A Car?

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It can be daunting to start the car-buying process, especially if you don’t know how long it will take. The average time it takes to buy a car will vary depending on a variety of factors including the car’s age, make, and model. 
Remember that you’ll need car insurance before you drive your new car. Typically, shopping for car insurance is time-consuming, but it can take less than 1 minute if you shop with the Jerry app.
Jerry does all the hard work of finding cheap quotes from the top name-brand insurance companies and buying new car insurance for you. They handle the phone calls, paperwork, and even help cancel your old policy!
To make things even easier, we’ve broken down the process of buying a car and how long it might take.

The timeline of buying a new car

While the experience for everyone will be different, the process for car buying follows typically has a similar timeline. 

Research—One day to one week  

For most people, researching your next vehicle will take the longest. Not only will you need to figure out where to buy a vehicle, but you’ll also have to figure out what make and model you want in the first place. This typically takes one day to one week, but it can vary depending on how much detail you want to research.  
Here are a couple of questions that can help guide you on your research:
  • What is your budget?
  • Are you planning on trading in your car for a new one?
  • Do you want to lease, finance, or pay for your car in full?

Shop and Browse—One to three days

The time it takes you to shop and browse depends on where you’re looking to purchase a car from. 
If you’re buying from a dealership, you’ll want to visit at least a few locations before you make your final decision. There are different promotions and sales offered at individual dealerships, so you may want to look at your options before making a decision. 
Studies have shown that the best times to buy a car are:
  • Late in the year (October, November, and December)
  • Late in the month (the 26th, 27th, or 28th day)
  • Early in the week (Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday)
These dates tend to be best because of the sales quotas that dealerships have. If you are shopping around later on in the month or year, you might save some money because a salesperson might be looking to meet their quota.
While you’re shopping, make sure to test drive the car to get a good sense of what the vehicle will actually be like on the road. You might realize that a car you researched doesn’t drive as well as you’d like. 
Key takeaway It’s a good idea to spend time shopping around for the best car. The first car you find may not meet all of your needs, nor may it be the best price.

Paperwork—One hour 

Once you’ve chosen a vehicle, you’ll have to fill out paperwork to complete the sale. This can be one of the quickest parts of the car-buying process, but it can also be daunting if you are not prepared. 
It’s a good idea to meet with a financial representative from the dealership if you haven’t decided whether you want to finance or lease your vehicle. If you choose to apply for a loan, the representative will evaluate your credit history and can help you apply for a loan.
To speed up this process, consider getting preapproved for a car loan. This will give you an idea of your budget and help make your shopping decisions and paperwork quicker. 

How long does it take to buy a new car directly from the factory?

What happens if you find your perfect car but it isn’t available on any lots?
You might choose to special order a vehicle that will come directly from the manufacturer. 
Ordering directly from the factory can take anywhere from 8 to 12 weeks if it is a domestic model. But if you’re ordering from a foreign manufacturer, it can take several months for your vehicle to arrive.
Be sure to do extensive research and exhaust all options in your area so you’re not waiting any longer than you have to be! 
Key takeaway Buying a car directly from the factory can take a while. Be sure to do your research to make sure that is the right option for you. 

How long does it take to buy a used car?

If you decide you don’t want to purchase a new car—either from a dealership or the factory—you might opt for a used car. Keep in mind, it will usually take longer to buy a used car than a new one from a dealership. 
Most of this time is put in upfront, however, as you’ll probably have to do more research before deciding on a car. 
A used car will typically need to be evaluated to make sure it doesn’t have any major issues. It will also may require more immediate repairs and maintenance, which can add a few days to the process. 

Insurance shopping—One hour, 30 minutes, or one minute

Whatever car you buy, you’ll need car insurance. Spending time shopping for car insurance by yourself can take a while, and you might waste time making phone calls, sorting through contracts, and filling out unnecessary forms.
That’s where Jerry can help you save time and money. Choose from competitive quotes from 50+ top insurance companies and Jerry takes care of the rest—securing your new policy and helping you cancel your old one. 
No long forms. No calling around. No hard work. Just savings. The average Jerry user saves $879 a year on car insurance.
Key takeaway Filling out forms can be a hassle—whether you’re purchasing a car or purchasing an insurance policy. Make your life easier and get insurance with Jerry. 


It will generally take longer to buy a car if you have bad credit.
If your credit is poor, it can take some time for your loan application to be approved. You might even have to shop around with a few different lenders if your initial loan application isn’t approved. That said, you can most likely find a place that’ll approve you if you search long enough.
There are a couple of things you can do in order to speed up your car-buying process and make it as painless as possible.
Decide on a budget early on
Bring all necessary paperwork with you on signing day
Get pre-approved for a loan
If you plan on trading in your car, make sure to have the vehicle’s title on hand
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