When Is the Best Time to Buy a Car?

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Teenage girl in passenger seat (Photo: @heather_lee_wilson via Twenty20)
Although buying a vehicle might seem like a relatively simple concept—find what you like, negotiate, and drive away—it can be a lot more complex than that. Buying a car at the right time can make a difference in the price you’ll end up paying. And while there’s not a magical date and time each year for people to get the best deal on vehicles, there are some tips that you can use to find the times that it’s most likely you’ll find a great deal.

When to Shop for Deals

Typically, shopping for a vehicle later in the year (October, November, and December) tends to be a good idea. Dealerships will often have a lot of inventory during this time, and they’re all trying to meet quarterly quotas for sales, as well as the typical monthly sales quotas. Dealers want to get rid of the old stock they have on their lots, so they can bring in the latest models for the following year. With all of these factors, it means they’ll generally start to become a bit looser when it comes to the types of deals you can find, particularly on the current year models and older.
One of the only drawbacks is that you’ll likely be stuck with the inventory that the dealership has in stock. They aren’t going to be able to get the colors, options, etc., that you might want. If you’re willing to be flexible and choose something that the dealer has available, they are often willing to negotiate, so you can get a good deal.
Something you’ll want to keep in mind is that you don’t necessarily have to wait until the final months of the year to get some good deals. Salespeople want to make their quarterly and monthly quotas throughout the year, as well. If you shop near the end of a quarter and at the end of a month, you can find many salespeople willing to make deals.
You might also want to consider the day of the week that you shop. When you shop on the weekends, you’ll be competing with other shoppers for the attention of the salespeople. By shopping on a Monday or a Tuesday when there are fewer shoppers, it often means you’ll have more time to talk with the salespeople. Since they may want to get a sale during the week—their slow time—they could be more willing to make some deals.

Check the Holiday Sales

You’ve likely seen barrage after barrage of advertisements for car sales during just about any holiday. Dealers want to move inventory and a holiday is a good way to do it. This is particularly true for holidays that people have off from work.
One of the most popular vehicle-buying holidays is President’s Day. Typically, this is a slow time of year for many types of commerce. Some buyers are still recovering from holiday spending. However, dealerships will often provide some great deals so they can start to boost sales.
Historically, the summer is not a good time to buy a car or find a deal. However, when Memorial Day rolls around, most dealerships cut back on their prices. Like President’s Day, it’s become a holiday that’s known for car shopping.
Some of the other holidays where you can often find the best deals include New Year’s Eve, Black Friday, Labor Day, and the Fourth of July. Dealerships will generally start their advertising a few days or even a week or more ahead of time to get people excited about the potential deals.

When Your Credit Score Goes Up

Keep in mind that getting a good deal on a car isn’t merely dependent on the time of year, month, or buying on a holiday. Your credit score will play a huge role when it comes to getting a loan and a favorable interest rate. Therefore, you may want to take steps to work on your credit score before you attempt to buy no matter the time of year. The best time to buy is when you have your credit in order. Then, you can look for the sales discussed above and find fantastic deals on vehicles.