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Best Time to Buy a Car

Last Modified: May 25, 2018 by Jeff Ostroff

When answering the question, "When is the best time to buy a car?" there are many approaches to answering this question. You first must answer an age old question. When you use the words best "time," what time are you referring to?

1. Best Time of the Day To Buy a Car

You probably don't think that it matters whether you go car shopping just after breakfast or right before the dealership closes. However, this seemingly minor decision can have an effect on how good of a deal you can get.

2. Best Day of the Week

We worked closely with the data collection department at TrueCar to figure out what day of the week people go the best deals. As you can see from the chart below, off of MSRP occur on Wednesdays.

best day to buy a car graphic
Courtesy of TrueCar

This chart was created from actual purchase data. You will notice that, in general, people get better prices on weekdays than weekends. The prices paid on Wednesday tend to be the lowest of the week. You'll notice that all weekdays are similar but to get the absolute best price, Wednesday will be your best bet.

The reason for better deals on weekdays is that more people are able to go to dealerships on the weekend. With more customers in the building, the law of supply and demand kicks in. To get enough deals done in the day they don't have to discount as heavily because they have more sales opportunities. If a tough negotiator walks out, there is another customer walking in right behind them.

Another advantage to buying during the week in general is that the parts and service departments are open the whole day. If you buy accessories or need anything installed, they can take care of you.

3. Best Time During the Month

Getting a good deal done will always be easier towards the end of the month. Sales quotas and salesperson incentives are calculated on a monthly basis. Both the dealership and the salesperson are motivated to get the sales numbers up to meet their goals.

If they are motivated to make sales, it puts you in the drivers seat for the negotiation. They might end up with more profit overall by making less profit on your deal. It's a classic win-win situation for everybody.

4. Best Time of the Year

When the next model year cars start arriving in large volume, this is the time when you can score some huge savings. This assumes that you are open to buying a current model year vehicle and aren't set on getting the next model year. If you are not flexible and are set on getting the next model year then this is NOT a good time to get a good deal. The dealerships are trying to clear old inventory. They don't want to incentivize people to purchase the new models that are rolling in.

The new model year typically becomes available in large volume between September and October. When buying the previous model year to get a better deal, you must also accept that the selection will be more limited and you might not be able to find a car with the exact options you want. Obviously, you won't be able to order one configured to your specifications because the manufacturer has stopped making them.

If the manufacturer overproduced the model that you are interested in then "jackpot," there will be all kinds of rebates and incentives available at the end of the model year. Waiting for a great rebate to materialize may or may not happen.

Similar to the end of the month, the dealerships and salespeople also have yearly goals and quotas to meet. For the dealership, the yearly totals are even more important because the volume allocation that the manufacturer will give them for the next year is based on the total sales for the current year.

The best times of the year to buy a car tend to be September, October and December. In December you have a trifecta of advantages that allow you to negotiate the biggest discounts if you purchase remaining inventory of the current model year. The dealership is motivated to sell those vehicles, they want to hit their yearly sales targets and the manufacturers may offer large rebates and incentives.

5. Other Considerations

The determination of the best time to buy a car on this page is a generalization that is supported by data. If you combine all the advice, you should be able to get the absolute best deal on the last Wednesday in December (unless it turns out to be Christmas Eve or Christmas Day). Our data shows that the busiest car shopping days of the year occur between Christmas and New Years. If you are going to shop during this period, be prepared for the crowds and be ready to be patient.

Sometimes there are promotions that open up other opportunities for big savings. You should always be on the lookout for holiday sales and other special offers. A big cash rebate or low APR financing offered at the beginning of the month can save you more than you'll get out of a perfect negotiation at the end of the same month.

To become an expert negotiator, make sure to read our new car buying guide.

CarBuyingTips.com has affiliate referral relationships with multiple web sites. This means that for many of the links you see on this site, we are paid referral fees for leads generated from visitors that click on links or fill out forms on this site. In some cases we are paid a commission for a purchase made on a site that is linked to from CarBuyingTips.com. Please view our advertising policy page for more information.