When Is the Best Time to Buy a New Car?

When Is the Best Time to Buy a New Car?

When Is the Best Time to Buy a New Car?

Car dealerships seem to be constantly advertising discounts and promotions, and it’s hard to know if the price you’re paying is actually a good deal or if you could do much better just by waiting a little while.

When Is the Best Time to Buy a New Car?

    Buying a new car can be both exciting and stressful. Of course, it’s fun to pick out the beautiful car that you’re going to drive for several years to come, but it’s stressful because it can feel impossible to know if you’re getting a good price.

    Car dealerships seem to be constantly advertising discounts and promotions, and it’s hard to know if the price you’re paying is actually a good deal or if you could do much better just by waiting a little while.

    Since cars never seem to be sold for list price and with sales and promotions constantly changing, there is a lot of mystery around the process of buying a car. With that in mind, we’ll take a look at the most important factors that determine the best time to buy a new car.

    While we’ll be looking at some specific times when you’re more likely to get an amazing deal, keep in mind that it’s possible to get a great price at any time. If you do some research and keep an eye on prices for a while, you’ll recognize a low price when you see it.

    Also, keep in mind that getting the lowest possible price should not be your only goal. If you have a car that really needs to be replaced, it may not be a wise decision to hold out for hopes of finding a better deal later.


    The Absolute Best Time to Buy a Car: Late December

    Car dealerships, salespeople, and sales managers always have monthly, quarterly, and yearly goals and quotas that they want to hit. If they’re successful at reaching those goals, they may be eligible for a bonus or they may work their way into a higher bracket for commission. As a result, they are more likely to be aggressive with pricing in order to make the sale and hit their goal.

    Even if they’ve already reached the goal, there’s still a push at the end of the month/quarter/year to get as much sales volume as possible and boost the numbers.

    December is the best time to buy a car because it’s the end of the fourth business quarter, and also the end of the year. The dealership or salesperson may be chasing goals or quotas for the quarter, the year, or both. Late in December, they may also have monthly goals or quotas that they’re after.

    If you could pick out a single day as the best day of the year to buy a car, it would be December 31st. You might be able to land an amazing deal because the dealership wants to get as many sales on the books as possible for the month, quarter, and year, and this is their last chance to make it happen. When sellers are highly motivated, buyers are able to get the best deals.

    In addition to sales quotas, dealerships are trying to push all of their inventory from the previous model year out the door before January. A dealership is going to be much more willing to discount a 2020 model if we’re just a few days away from 2021 because they know it will be harder for them to sell in a new calendar year. Your car will still be brand new, and in most cases the differences between model years is negligible.

    Other Great Times to Shop for New Wheels

    The same situation applies at the end of the first, second, and third quarters of the year, except without the end-of-year incentive. In the last week of March, June, and September, salespeople and dealerships will be looking to maximize sales volume for the quarter and the month. While these months may not be quite as great of a time to buy as late December, they’re still among the best opportunities throughout the year.

    End of Any Month

    While late March, June, September, and December are the best times to buy a car, the end of other months can also present opportunities to find a bargain. During the final few days of the month, the salesperson and the dealership may be motivated to reach a monthly goal, even if quarterly or yearly goals aren’t a factor.


    Holiday Sales

    We’re all familiar with commercials and advertisements for blowout sales that car dealerships run to correspond with holidays throughout the year. Though the car may not come with a ridiculously giant red bow, it’s possible to find a great deal thanks to holiday sales at several different times of the year.

    The most popular holidays for promotions from car dealerships include:

    • President’s Day (February)
    • Memorial Day (May)
    • Independence Day (July)
    • Labor Day (September)
    • Black Friday (November)

    End of the Model Year

    Obviously, new models of each car will be released every year. As mentioned above, dealerships want to unload all of the older models so they can fill their lot with the newest models, and that might lead to an excellent price. The moment the new models arrive on the lot, the selling power of the previous model year diminishes and this could potentially mean big discounts.

    New models are often released in the fall, but the exact timing will vary. When you see new models being advertised, that’s usually a sign that they will be available soon.

    Early In the Week

    Saturday and Sunday are typically the busiest days for most car dealerships because people shop for cars when they’re not working. The car lot may be pretty quiet on a Monday or Tuesday. Since there’s not a lot going on, you may find salespeople who have more time to dedicate to you, and they might be more motivated to make the sale since there are fewer customers walking in, as compared to the weekend.

    You’re unlikely to score a significantly better deal just by shopping on Monday instead of Saturday, but it can help a little. Dealerships will typically staff newer salespeople in these low traffic shifts while they’re still getting up to speed, so you might benefit from dealing with a rookie salesperson as opposed to someone who knows every trick in the book.

    Remember to Be Flexible

    If you want to get the lowest price possible, it’s important to be flexible. You’re much more likely to get an incredible deal on a car that’s already on the lot as opposed to one that has to be ordered and delivered because the dealership’s main priority is to move the merchandise they already have sitting on the lot. That means that if you’re flexible in terms of the color and options, you’ll have a far better chance of walking away knowing that you paid a rock bottom price.

    Remaining flexible also gives you the opportunity to get up and walk out if you’re not finding the deals you’re looking for. You never want to go to a dealership and feel compelled to buy a car!

    If your heart is set on a specific color or certain options, you might have a harder time getting a great price because the dealership may not have that specific car on the lot. If you have specific requirements like this, it’s a good idea to check a lot’s inventory online before going to the dealership so you know ahead of time that they have what you’re looking for on the lot.

    This flexibility can result in thousands of dollars in savings, so it’s easily one of the keys to getting the best price possible.

    How to Know if You’re Getting a Good Price

    Now that we’ve looked at the best times to buy a new car, let’s take a look at some resources that can help you to know if you’ve found a great price.


    TrueCar is a very helpful resource for researching cars. You’ll find plenty of details about the specs and features of each model, plus TrueCar will list the “market average” price of the car, which shows what other people are actually paying. Since most new cars aren’t sold for the MSRP, this market value price can be extremely helpful to know when you’re negotiating.

    Kelley Blue Book (KBB)

    You can look up the make and model at KBB.com and you’ll see pricing info that lists the MSRP, fair market range, and fair purchase price. You can use this fair purchase price to know if you’re getting a good deal.


    At CarGurus, you can find a price analysis for each model. It will list the different trim packages available along with a fair price, good price, and great price.


    Through AAA’s website, you can choose to get price quotes from multiple car dealerships in your area for a particular make and model. You’ll enter your personal information and the details of the car that you want, and you’ll be able to see the price offered from participating dealerships in your area. Depending on the model, the prices can be well below MSRP. Even if you don’t buy the car from one of these dealerships, it provides you with a quote that you can take to another dealership to help with negotiating or price matching.

    How to Know When It’s Time to Get Rid of Your Car

    If you’re looking to buy a new car, chances are you’re also going to be trading in or selling an existing car. It’s a challenge to know the best time to make this transition, but here are a few factors that indicate it might be time.

    Constant Repairs

    If something seems to be going wrong with your car all the time and you’re constantly getting repairs done, it might be a sign that you should start looking for a replacement. Older cars will often reach a phase when a lot of issues start to arise quickly.

    These repairs wouldn’t include routine maintenance or parts that you should expect to replace periodically (like brakes, tires, etc.). These types of maintenance issues can seem to hit all at once, but they are an expected cost of owning a car.

    Expensive Repairs

    Certain types of repairs will be much more expensive than others. As the car gets older, costly repairs can be hard to swallow because the repair might cost more than the car is worth. If you’ve had to make expensive repairs or if you anticipate that expensive repairs may be needed in the near future, you might want to put that money towards a new car instead.

    Safety Concerns

    Is your older car safe? Safety features improve quickly with new cars, so you may be able to have a significantly safer car by upgrading.

    Another factor that can come into play here is the safety impact on the reliability of your car. Do you fear that your car will break down and leave you stranded? If so, it might be wise to get another car.

    Gas Mileage

    Older cars tend to be less fuel-efficient than new cars. As your car gets older, you may notice that gas mileage becomes a bigger issue. This is especially true if you have a long commute to work or if you put a lot of miles on your car. In these situations, you may be spending a lot more on gas than you need to

    It No Longer Meets Your Needs

    Based on your stage of life or the context of the way you use your car, it might not continue to meet your needs as well as it did in the past. Maybe your family has grown and you need a bigger car. Or maybe you’ve changed jobs and you have a longer commute and need better fuel efficiency. There are many different ways that your needs can change.


    Final Thoughts

    Buying a new car doesn’t have to be a frustrating experience. The key is to know which car you want, do some research on the price, and know when you’re likely to get the best deal. If you’re able to wait for the right deal, the times that were mentioned in this article will provide the best opportunities. It’s also important to keep in mind that you can find an outstanding deal at other times throughout the year as well. If you do your research and you know what would qualify as a great price, you’ll be able to recognize a fantastic deal regardless of when it becomes available.

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    Marc Andre

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