It turns out that some times are better than others to buy a car. Even though there often are sales on vehicles throughout the year, such as around Memorial Day and Labor Day, the final few months of the year — think October to December — is the real sweet spot for buying. According to The Wall Street Journal, this is because "new models are typically released in the fall of the preceding year, with 2024 models announced in the fall 2023 and start arriving in October."
But you can get the timing even more dialed. There are certain times within the month and even days of the week that can help you score a more competitive deal.
When can you get the best deal on a car?
As mentioned, October through December is generally the best time to purchase a car. According to Edmunds, "if you need a car in October and want to get the best deal, you might want to wait until December, even though you'll run the risk of having fewer cars to choose from."
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If you don't want to hold out until December, you might at least try to wait until the month's end. Per MarketWatch, "you're likely to find competitive car-buying deals toward the last week of any month or quarter" because "this is when car salespeople are more motivated to slash sticker prices even if it means they’ll get lower commissions."
As for which day of the week you should go in, "Monday is usually the best day of the week to buy a car" since "showrooms will be the least busy," according to MarketWatch. In Edmunds' opinion, however, Tuesday or Wednesday can be a good bet, especially in areas where dealerships aren't open on Sundays.
Does the same timing apply for buying a used car?
In short, yes. The months of October through December are also the months that "coincide with the peak new-car buying season at the dealership, which means more trade-ins are entering the used car inventory," said Edmunds, which in turn means "a better selection of used cars — and better prices, especially if the dealership is trying to hit its end-of-year quota." Just like with a new car, if you're really focused on trying to get the best deal possible, then "you'll want to shop in December."
Another "sweet spot" for used car buyers is from early April to early May, reported the Journal, because "when people get their tax refund back in the spring, a lot of them go car shopping." This can lead dealerships to "compete for customers by offering deals," per the Journal.
How else can you score car-buying savings?
Of course, timing isn't everything when it comes to buying a car. Other tips to keep in mind as you set out to purchase vehicle include:
Get preapproved before you start shopping. Before you enter a car dealership, get preapproved for a car loan. This can help you understand how much you can afford to spend on a car and whether your credit needs improvement, explained NPR. Further, by getting preapproved, you'll have more leverage to negotiate a better rate on your loan.
Do your research. It's also critical to gather lots of information, both on vehicles and their features as well as the fair market value and average selling price, which you can find in sources like Kelley Blue Book. Per GoBankingRates, "when car dealers know you’ve done your homework, they are more likely to offer their best deal first."
Comparison shop at different dealerships. On a similar note, it's helpful to shop around and compare what different dealerships can offer. One approach here is to "call, text, or email the internet sales department of three dealerships that have the car you want" and "ask each for the total selling price, including any additional accessories that may have already been installed on the car," suggested Edmunds. From there, you can take the best offer or bring it to the other dealerships to see if they'll do even better.
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