When is the Right Time to Buy a Car?

Buying a car, especially a new one fresh from the factory, is a big investment. Sometimes events like accidents and breakdowns make it so you can’t choose when you need to make a purchase, but if you can pick when you hit the dealership lot, you can potentially save yourself a lot of money.

New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve is a time to party, but it also turns out that it’s a great time to buy a car. Zach Friedman, a senior contributor at Forbes, points out that dealerships all have monthly, quarterly, and annual sales goals. That means that Dec. 31 is where all three of those deadlines types meet, and salespeople might be more likely to cut you a deal to add one more car to their tally.

The end of the month

If you can’t pull yourself away from the ball drop on New Year’s Eve to drop some cash on a new ride, Rick Kranz, a contributing editor to Kelley Blue Book, reports that you’re not completely out of luck. Since the most basic sales benchmarks are usually the end of the calendar months, from both dealership management and the car manufacturers, that’s still an ideal time to buy a car.

If you have time for a strategy, Kranz recommends picking your car model and then waiting to see what incentives the dealership offers at the beginning of the month. Once you have a bill ballpark by looking at prices on a dealer’s website and doing math with the incentives, head to the lot between the 16th and 20th of the month to take a closer look and a test drive to make sure it’s what you want. From there, he says, sit and wait until the last couple of days of the month to make a purchase. If the sales team really wants the sale, it’s possible that follow-up emails and calls from your store visit could net you additional discounts or incentives.

End of the model year

Car companies are a bit odd in that they usually change their model years before the end of the actual calendar year. Since most of your fellow shoppers want what they’ve seen in commercials, this changeover period is a great time to buy a new car if you’re OK with the previous model year. Kranz estimates that choosing an older year model vehicle from a dealer when current year cars are already on the lot can save you thousands of dollars. This is when model research comes in handy because you can check for yourself what the difference between the two years is in terms of features and design and decide if you’re OK missing those upgrades.


Mondays might be the worst day of the week, but for buying a car, it might be your best bet. Some experts might suggest heading into a dealership right before it closes, or on a busy weekend, to get the best discounts. However, John M. Vincent of U.S. News and World Report says that is pure myth. If you sign your papers on a Monday, you can expect to save about 8.1 percent off the manufacturer’s suggested retail price of a car. On a Saturday, you might only save about 7.77 percent, or 7.49 percent at a dealership doing business on a Sunday. While these differences seem small, when you consider the price of a car, those percentage points could mean paying hundreds of dollars less on Monday.

Buying a car is a stressful process, but if you do your homework in advance and plan ahead, it’s possible to get a reasonably good deal.

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