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When is the Best Time to Buy a Car?

By: Kiana Wright Vice President of Consumer Lending

Posted on 2/5/2020 3:34:01 PM

Young couple inside a car dealership next to a white SUV. They are hugging, smiling, and shaking hands with a car salesman in a suit.

So, you’ve got your perfect car in mind. Maybe it’s your dream car, or maybe it’s a safe and practical choice. In either case, should you just go out and buy it right now, or is there an ideal time to buy a car? 

It turns out, there are several opportune moments to visit a dealership, and planning your purchase around these times can save you money. Sometimes, those savings can equal thousands of dollars. It can be tempting to visit a dealership as soon as you’ve saved up enough money, but before you give in to temptation, take a look at the ideal times we’ve outlined below:

Wait Until the End 

Car sales employees have quotas to make, so if you wait to the end of their quota timeline, you’ll have more negotiating power and be more likely to get a better deal. How do you know what their quota timelines are? Well, most car dealerships follow the same timelines with quotas that need to be met several times throughout the year.

·End of the Year

Most car dealership sales employees have a big, year-end quota they have to meet. If possible, wait until December to visit a dealership, because that is a surefire way to get the best deal on a car.  

·End of the Month

If you can’t wait until the end of the year, try going a couple of days before the end of the month. Most sales employees have smaller monthly quotas they need to meet, so visiting a dealership on the last few days of the month can incentivize salespeople to give you a better deal, especially if they’re trying to earn a monthly bonus. 

·End of the Quarter

Better yet, if you can’t wait until the end of the year, but can hold out a few months, then it’s a good idea to visit a dealership at the end of a quarter. Like all businesses, dealerships have quarterly revenue goals, and the pressure to meet them is on the sales team.   

·Exception: Beginning of the Week

The only exception to this tip is to go at the beginning of the week when it’s less crowded. Dealerships are full of people on the weekends, and the pressure to make sales isn’t as high. Going into a dealership on a slow Monday or Tuesday gives you an advantage.

Look for Holiday Sales 

Up close photo a woman’s hand holding a red toy car. On top of the car is a very large red bow.

You’ve probably seen or heard advertisements for huge car sales over various weekends throughout the year. Dealerships pour money into these advertisements because they depend on three-day holiday weekends to meet their revenue goals. If you really need a car now, and there’s a three-day weekend around the corner, try to wait it out because that’s when you’ll find the best sales.

Shop Old Models When New Models Arrive 

Unless you’re really committed to owning the latest and greatest model of the car you want, then there’s no need to shop for next year’s model, which is usually released the year prior. Instead, try shopping for the current year’s model right before or right when the newer models arrive on the lot. There’s always pressure to move old models to make room for newer models, which typically arrive in the spring and summer.

Another trick you can try is when you’re at the dealership, take a look at the details on the paperwork attached to a new car. You’ll notice a manufactured date, usually simply listed as “date.” The older that date, the more motivated a salesperson will be to move it off the lot.

How to Finance Your Car 

Photo of a red toy car, stack of coins and calculator all sitting on top of a check book ledger and car loan application.

Once you’ve planned out when you want to shop for your car, it’s time to think about how you’re going to finance your purchase.

When shopping around for an auto loan, consider working with a credit union rather than a bank. Credit union loans often have lower interest rates, come with additional benefits, and are usually easier to get. Keep in mind, your credit history and income will play a significant factor in what type of loan you’re able to get.