Buying a car isn’t always a simple and straightforward process, and there’s one big question buyers often consider before making the purchase: When is the best time to buy a car?
The answer varies based on the month, the day, the salesperson you’re working with and a range of other factors. If you’re searching for the magic moment to drive off the lot with a significant discount, consider these tips on the best time to buy a car.
Know the best day
Monday can be the best time to buy a new car. Other potential shoppers are focusing on the responsibilities of their jobs, so representatives at car dealerships are focused on anyone who comes in the door.
Know the best month
Before you buy a car, consider the month of the year. Certain months of the year are better than others. Historically, May has been a major month for auto sales. Between 2013 and 2018, data from Cox Automotive shows it was a hub of buyer activity. Much of that activity can be attributed to “aggressive holiday incentives and promotions” for Memorial Day.
Shop late in month and year
The months of October, November and December are the best time of year to buy a car. Car dealerships have sales quotas, which typically break down into yearly, quarterly and monthly sales goals. And all three goals begin to come together late in the year.
Go for Holidays
We’ve all seen the holiday-themed commercials with car dealers urging you to shop and save on special occasions. And those advertisements, in many cases, are speaking the truth. A holiday sale can offer deep discounts compared with car prices throughout the rest of the year.
End of model year
In addition to the end of the calendar year, it’s important to keep an eye on the end of the model year — the time frame when the newest versions will start hitting the road. Moody says the fall is generally when manufacturers begin releasing new cars, but there are some exceptions.
Check personal finance options
Regardless of when you decide to buy a car, you’ll need more than perfect timing. You’ll also need a complete understanding of your own finances to know if you qualify for the best auto loan rates. “Know what you can afford,” Moody says. “If you see an offer for zero percent financing, it’s for people with excellent credit. How will you know if you qualify if you don’t know what your credit score is?”
Keep track of model changeovers
Although the winter months and holidays are popular times for car discounts and deals, they aren’t the only opportunities to save. Some of the biggest bargains pop up when a vehicle is being discontinued or during annual model changeovers. Montoya notes that these discounts apply to outgoing models rather than new ones, so if you want the latest model, be prepared to pay more or wait until the market cools down.
Know extra tips
Both Montoya and Moody recommend being flexible to truly get the best deal on a car. “There’s a balance between getting the best deal possible and finding the exact color and trim combination you want,” Montoya says. And while you will get a better price by waiting until the end of the year, Montoya notes that there may be fewer vehicles to choose from, so you may get stuck with an older model or unpopular color