Services
Insurance
Loans
Repairs
Advice
About
background

The Worst Time to Buy a Car

Put refinancing on auto pilot. Check your auto refinancing offer in 3 minutes or less with Jerry and reduce your monthly payment by an average of $150/mo.
No long forms · No spam · No fees
WHY YOU CAN TRUST JERRY
Jerry partners with more than 50 insurance companies, but our content is independently researched, written, and fact-checked by our team of editors and agents. We aren’t paid for reviews or other content.
You’ll generally want to avoid purchasing a car in late spring and early summer and aim to buy a car toward the end of the month or the end of the year. 
  • The best and worst times of the year to buy a new or used vehicle can vary depending on local inventory and demand.
  • The best times to buy a new or used car are generally towards the end of the month, sales quarter, or year when dealers are trying to clear out their supply.
  • The worst times to buy a new or used car are generally the end of spring through the summer due to a lack of supply and high demand.

Avoid used car shopping during the summer or tax refund season

While higher trade-ins help car buyers during the end of the year, certain trends can hurt your chances of scoring a deal during the middle of the year. Experts suggest avoiding car buying during the following times, based on trade-in trends:
  • Tax refund season (between President’s Day and Memorial Day): Dealers predictably sell higher numbers of cars during this time—especially as more trade-ins come in—so they’re less likely to
    negotiate deals
    .  
  • May through August: Consumers often wait to trade in vehicles until late summer or early fall when new car models begin to roll out. This leads to a lack of inventory in the middle of the year, so car dealers have no choice but to ask for higher prices. 
MORE: 7 things to look for when buying a used car

Aim to buy a used car between September and January

The best time of year to buy a
used car
is typically:
  • During the last four months of the year, or 
  • The very beginning of the new year 
Expert tip: You can expect the best deal at the end of the month or the end of the quarter,  when inventory is high and dealers are trying to meet quotas or clear out their stock.
These times are advantageous for the following reasons:
  • More trade-ins occurring: Car shoppers are often
    trading in old vehicles
    during this time, increasing the dealership’s supplies.
  • New car inventory: At the same time that more used cars are being traded in, dealerships are making room for next year’s models. This creates more incentives for automakers or car dealerships to sell cars for less.
Holiday discounts: You may also find that sales events surrounding holidays like Memorial Day, Labor Day, Black Friday, and New Year’s Eve offer better prices. Check with your local dealerships to see what sort of regional car deals may be going on.
Keep in mind: Factors like supply chain issues and the global pandemic continue to have an impact on the new car market—which affects used car prices as well. The used car market continues to become less predictable with the rise of inflation.
MORE: When should you trade in your car?

Don’t buy a new car in late spring or when new models are first released

The worst times to make a new car purchase are when demand is high and supply is low, such as the following times:
  • The end of spring: This is when an influx of drivers have already bought new cars for the summer, and the ones who wait are left scrambling for the last models on the lot.
  • When new models are first released: The hype of a car release generates pre-orders, waiting lists, and increasing demand that allows car dealerships to raise their asking prices for the most competitive buyer.
Expert tip: You may want to hold off on purchasing that just-released sedan or SUV for safety reasons. If the vehicle is too new to have undergone
crash test ratings
, there’s no way of knowing whether it’s worth the investment or if it’ll end up being a headache of recalls and repairs. 

Shop for a new car at the end of the year

The end of the year is the best time to
buy a new car for the lowest price
for the following reasons:
  • Automakers and dealerships are clearing out their stock from the last year to make room for the new model year
  • Car prices generally run lower to incentivize holiday season car shopping
Keep in mind: Unlike used car hunting, you don’t have to worry about trade-in supply when buying new. While the automakers’ supply chain will impact inventory—and therefore pricing—you’ll want to pay most attention to the motivations of the dealership itself. 
Expert tip: Car dealers tend to clear out current models just before a new model’s release—resulting in lower prices for buyers. Similarly, you’ll be more likely to land a bargain at the end of the month when your car salesperson is trying to meet an end-of-month sales quota for a bonus.

Tips for getting a good deal on a car 

Here are some tips to get the best car price available: 
  • Look for dealer incentives: Pay attention to when dealers are more motivated to clear out inventory like the end of the month and the end of the year. In the new car market, dealers also tend to clear out current models just before new models are released. 
  • Wait for the end of the year: Dealers serving both the used and new car markets are more likely to promote sales during this time due to a turnover of inventory and holiday-season shoppers. Demand also tends to be lower in winter months than in warmer, spring months. 
  • Browse used car listings: Use sites like
    Kelley Blue Book
    and
    Edmunds
    or scroll local dealerships’ websites directly to get a better idea of inventory and deals. You may also find a better deal from a private seller while the market recovers from pandemic chip shortages and higher demand.  
“I just had to buy a new car, and I needed quick help to get insurance before I could get my plates. Because I work so many hours,
Jerry
was the ideal choice for getting things done without long phone calls and waiting periods.”  —Rosa G.
Make auto loan refinancing easy with PriceProtect™
icon4.7/5 rating on the App Store | Trusted by 5+ million customers and 7 million cars
icon4.7/5 app rating | Trusted by 5M+ drivers

FAQs

You can generally find the best deals on cars in October, November, and December—with December bringing the cheapest prices. That said, local inventory and sales will vary from dealership to dealership whether you’re buying a used or new vehicle.
Unfortunately, due to factory closures during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the auto industry is facing unprecedented supply shortages and higher demand. Because of this, now is not a great time to buy a car. Though experts are hopeful buying conditions will even out by 2024, car buyers today can usually find the best deals during the last few months of the year. 

Easiest way to compare and buy car insurance

√
No long forms
√
No spam or unwanted phone calls
√
Quotes from top insurance companies
Find insurance savings