When Is the Best Time to Buy a Car?
There are tons of myths about how to get the best deal when you buy a car, and many of them have to do with “timing” your purchase: What day of the week is best to stroll into a car dealership? Should you wait until the end of the year? The end of the month? A holiday weekend? A rainy day? Can waiting even one day make a huge difference in the price you pay for your next car?
The answer is … maybe. Some of these myths are false, while others might actually reveal the best time to buy a car.
Myth #1: Buy on a weekday.
The theory is that because more people shop for cars on weekends, weekdays are the best times to get a good deal.
This isn’t necessarily the case, but there’s a big perk to shopping on a weekday: smaller crowds. You’ll benefit from more personalized attention from the salesperson, so you can ask questions and negotiate in relative peace.
Buying a car is stressful and can take a few hours. Why not make it slightly easier on yourself by buying that car on a Tuesday?
Myth #2: Buy at the end of the month.
The rationale behind this myth is that if a dealership still needs to meet its sales quota, you can get a discounted price. The risk is that they may have already met their sales quota, so you’ll be out of luck, at least at that particular dealership.
Myth #3: Buy on a rainy day.
Much like the weekday myth, you likely won’t get a special deal on a car, and rain doesn’t necessarily affect foot traffic. You’ll get a thorough test of the car’s brakes and handling during the test drive, however!
Myth #4: Buy on Black Friday or on a holiday weekend.
This one’s true! Black Friday is a great time to take advantage of the beginning of the end of a model year. Holiday weekends are also common times for dealers to throw in extra incentives. Just be ready to deal with a busier-than-usual dealership. One way to counteract this is to do your research and test drive the car before the holiday weekend, and then simply go there during the sale when you’re ready to buy.
Myth #5: Buy in December.
There’s truth to this one, because dealerships have large inventories of the outgoing model years. They’re motivated to sell those cars to boost their year-end profits and make room on the lot for the next year’s model, so December is a good time to shop. Even better, head to the dealership on New Year’s Eve.
Myth #6: Buy when a car is about to be redesigned or discontinued.
This one’s true! You can get deep discounts when the next model year is going to look different. If a car company has decided not to continue manufacturing a car, it’s a good idea to research why. If people just didn’t care for the car’s looks, that’s fine. But you’ll want to be aware of any design flaws or safety issues that made the car unpopular.
So when is the actual best time to buy a car?
All myths aside, the best time to buy a car is whenever you actually need a car and can financially afford it. Really! There are few discounts so steep that it’s worth it to put off a needed car purchase for months.
Prepare yourself for negotiating by researching the invoice price (that’s what the dealer paid for the car) and basing your negotiations on that instead of the suggested retail price.
Get pre-approved for an auto loan from a bank or credit union and then see if the dealer can match or beat that financing. If you’re planning on paying cash, you may be able to bring the price down further. Be prepared to see what a few dealers offer before making your choice, and don’t be afraid to walk out of a dealership if someone else offers you something better.
Ultimately, negotiating the purchase only when you need the car will be the best situation for you, instead of waiting for the “perfect” day of the year.