It’s no secret that buying a new car – whether it’s brand new or used – is one of the biggest headaches you’ll face. It’s here where the paradox of choice (having too many options) really can paralyze you, plus you have to be extra careful with your finances, work cleverly with the dealers, and play your cards right so you get the best deal and avoid any lemons.
That being said, in addition to the tips and tricks we’ve provided in earlier posts, there is one other thing you can do to ease the headache of making this purchase: know when the right time is to buy a car. Yes, you heard that right – there is a best time, and a worst time, to buy a car – both for you personally, and for the car buying market in general. Important factors like financing, cash back, and leasing incentives vary based on the time of year, and it can even fluctuate based on what time of the month or day of the week you buy. But don’t worry – we’ll help you figure out when these best times are!
Before You Need a New Car
Okay, so this one may sound a bit…simple, but stay with me here. Think of buying a new car as like getting out of that job you hate. If you wait until it’s too late, you may find yourself desperate to take a bad deal, just because you’re pinched for time and can’t afford to wait around for anything better. Wait too long to buy a car, and you may lose your car’s value as a trade-in, and you may find yourself having to waste money on a lemon just to get by for the time being.
Go on a Monday
So, of course, like the myth of flight deals being best on Tuesdays, this trick won’t get you the best deal 100% of the time – but it’ll at least help, a lot. A 2015 TrueCar report showed that consumers who bought on Mondays saved an average of 8.1% off the MSRP. Their purchases were 7.77% less than they would have been on a Saturday, and 7.49% less than they would have been on a Sunday.
Typically, salespeople have more time on Mondays to negotiate with you. This’ll be true for other weekdays, although the longer into the week you wait, the less time and patience they may have. And please don’t go on a weekend – that’s when everyone else goes, and those salespeople will be so focused on getting you in and out of the door they won’t negotiate with you for the best deal.
An added benefit to this is that lenders will be open on weekdays, so you can get your financing out of the way before having to wait until your bank opens up the next week.
Shop in October…
As you may have guessed by all the car commercials you saw recently, Memorial Day in May is one of the best times to buy a car. It’s the start of summer, dealers are already starting to look ahead to the next year, and they’re often feeling more generous with the holiday weekend. But since that’s already passed, let’s focus on another great time to buy a new car: October.
Why October? Basically, if in late May dealers are starting to look to the new year, by October they’re really starting to aggressively move that year’s models off the floor to start making room for the next year’s models. Another TrueCar report showed that those who bought cars in October also saved an average of 8% off the MSRP.
And if you’re into trucks – October is definitely your star month. Dealers have lots of inventory around this time, and newer models start trucking on in once fall starts. And the best part is that trucks tend to vary little between one year and the next, unlike some sedans, so getting a 2018 model now in October won’t put you far behind your friends who get the 2019 version.
…or in November!
Let’s say that, for whatever reason, you’re exceptionally busy in October. Well, you’re in luck, as November, replete with Black Friday deals and dealers increasingly anxious to get rid of that year’s models, means chances for good deals. But watch out: since November is the time of year when inclement weather starts to arrive in many parts of the country, the demand for SUVs and crossovers – more dependable bad weather cars – actually goes up, meaning so does the price. If you’re into these types of cars, stick to buying in the spring or Memorial Day weekend, when there’s still plenty of good weather for time to come and the demand is a bit less.
Whenever You See Incentives
A final tip for knowing when to buy a new car is: when you see incentives. Especially if you can afford to spend a bit more – so the deals of October through December and Memorial Day weekend don’t woo you quite as much – whenever you see dealers offering special financing deals, lease incentives or cash rebate offers – go for it, especially if it’s a model you’ve been eyeing for a while. Even if you don’t see your favorite model on promotion, take advantage of the fact dealers are probably in a more generous mood, and may give you a tiny bit of a discount anyway.