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When Is The Best Time To Buy a Car? (2024 Guide)

salesman giving car keys to buyer

Buying a new vehicle can be a stressful and expensive experience. Many people dread going to the dealership. Further confusing people is often an unending stream of advice from friends and family about when the best time to buy a car is. People make it sound like buying a car at the wrong time will cost you thousands which only piles on the pressure in an already high-pressure situation. Buy at the end of the year. Buy at the end of the month. Buy when the new models show up. But is any of this advice true? When is actually the best time to buy a car?

We analyzed the data for both new and used cars and found out what is true and what isn’t. It turns out there are better times than others to buy a car. Here are the best times to buy a car.

divider 5 The Best Time To Buy a New Car

New cars, especially the latest models, tend to have the least flexible pricing structure. That does not mean that there are no ways to snag great deals on the newest vehicles. The best window to grab a new car at a great price is to target them at the end of the current model year as well as at the end of the calendar year.

red and black Ford F-150 car parked by the lake
Image By: lpegasu, Pixabay

End of The Model Year

A car’s model year usually runs from September to September. That means that the newest 2023 models will start hitting the lot sometime in September of this year. That puts pressure on the new 2022 models that have not sold. Dealerships want to have ample room for the hottest models rolling off the lines, and in order to do so, they need to clear space. This opens a window, often in August, to come and snag a deal on last year’s model right before the new models come in.

You might need to do a bit of tough negotiating and show a willingness to haggle, but if you go to the dealership at the end of August, they will be more likely to hear you out. Nine times out of ten, a dealership is going to want an empty parking space for the latest model car rather than last year’s model, even if it costs them a little on the front end.

End of The Calendar Year

Another great time to buy a new car is at the end of the calendar year, with New Year’s Eve being the best day for deals across the board. Many dealerships work on commission and sales bonuses, and many of those metrics reset on the first of the year. That means that there is a good chance you will run into a salesperson looking to make quota at the eleventh hour on New Year’s Eve. Bonus, the dealerships are not usually packed during this part of the holidays, so you can get a deal without having to fight the crowds that show up for more traditional sales holidays.

Audi Black Car
Image Credit: jarmoluk, Pixabay

What About The End of the Month or Quota Period?

Lots of people say to head to the dealership at the end of the month or end of the quarter, no matter what the month is. They claim that many salespeople work on monthly quotas, and you will get similar deals on the last day of March as you will on the last day of the year. That is not entirely true. Unless you have insider knowledge about what kind of pay structure your local dealer runs for their salespeople, there is no way to know for sure what kind of quota program they have. There are dozens of different ways to run quotas that have nothing to do with calendars or raw numbers of units sold. There can be exclusions for sales or holidays. There can be an emphasis on profit over pure sales. Without knowing for a fact, you can’t be sure that heading to the lot at the end of the month is actually going to yield tangible results.

Best Time To Buy a Used Car

The best times to buy a used car differ slightly from that of a new car. Used car cycles generally lag behind new car cycles. Lots typically get a flood of used cars as trade-ins during big sales events and model turnover. It takes the dealerships a little bit of time to flip the trade-in cars and have them sit for a while before the deals start sinking in. Here is the best time to buy a used car.

steering wheel of a bmw car
Image Credit: StockSnap, Pixabay

January and February

According to data compiled by Market Watch, January and February feature 25% more deals than an average month for used cars. This is because the most popular time to buy a new car is September through December. The new models hit the dealerships in September, and then there are deals through the holidays to get people through the doors. This leaves many dealerships with a plethora of used cars come the start of the year.

Salespeople might not be willing to compromise on new car prices at this point in the year, but they are willing to negotiate on used car prices. If you are looking for a used car, it would be wise to wait for these months if possible.

After a Big Sales Event

The other great time to look for used cars is after a big sales event. These events usually coincide with holidays such as President’s Day or Labor Day. Big sales events will drive traffic to the dealerships and that, in turn, will leave them with a lot of used cars ready to be sold. Give the dealerships a couple of weeks after a big sale to process their inventory and get the cars ready and you will see a pop in inventory and some great deals appear.

red tesla car being charged
Image Credit: webandi, Pixabay

What Is The Worst Time To Buy a Car?

If there are good times to buy a car, that means there are bad times as well. Experts say the worst day of the week to buy a car is Saturday. The dealerships are the most crowded on Saturdays. A crowded dealership leads to a handful of bad outcomes for people looking for a deal. First, with a lot of people looking to buy a car at the same time, the pressure to hand out good deals goes way down. Secondly, more people means less time and attention from salespeople. Lastly, if the dealership is full, the financing office and the sales managers get backed up, which extends wait times and drives up prices. All of these things together mean bad deals for prospective buyers.

The worst time of year to buy a car is late spring through early summer. May, June, and early July often have the fewest number of deals outside of scheduled holiday sales events. This is the meat of the year where sales pressure is low, lots are full of the current model, and the new models are still a few months away from arriving.

So, the absolute worst time to buy a car would be a random Saturday in early summer.

Related Read: 25 Interesting Car Facts – Looking at the Past, Present, and Future

divider 5 Conclusion

At the end of the day, the best time to buy a car is when you need one. Not everyone has the luxury of waiting months to snag the best deal. If you need a car, you need a car. But if you are able to wait and plan your purchase, there are indeed some times in the year that are better than others for both new cars and used cars. So, check your engine, check your bank account, and take a look at the calendar. A deal might be waiting just around the corner.

You might also be interested in: How to Get Dog Pee Smell Out of Your Car: 7 Practical Options

Featured Image Credit: 89stocker, Shutterstock


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