Best Time to Buy a Car
When answering the question, "When is the best time to buy a car?" We first need to ask you the question: What "time" are you referring to? We will break down the best time to buy a new car based on the best time of the day, day of the week, time of the month and time of the year:
So, which time you are referring to?
- Best Time of Day
- Best Day of the Week
- Best Time During the Month
- Best Time of the Year
- Other Considerations
1. Best Time of Day to Buy a Car
You probably don't think it matters whether you go shopping after breakfast or right before the dealership closes. However, this seemingly minor decision can greatly effect the deal you get. In this case, the "best time" depends more on you and your personality than it does on the dealership or sales staff.
Good Time to Buy a Car
Don't expect you'll save 10% by entering the dealership at exactly 3:06 PM. However, you can save money with these simple tips. Are you a morning or night person? Stick with your strongest time!
- Never skip a meal to go car shopping. You need to be on your game to negotiate or it can cost you a lot of money. The Snickers commercials are humorous, but there is an element of truth to them!
- Late Night Car Shopping
- Salespeople will pressure you as closing time approaches. You start seeing people preparing to leave, lights turning off and doors locked. This creates a very anxious environment. If you don't deal well with these situations, avoid buying a car late at night.
- If you're at the dealership too late, the paperwork may not be completed that night. They'll tell that "so and so" has left for the day so it can't be finished. You'll sign some papers and return the next day to finalize the deal. They won't be able to prep the car so you'll need to come back.
- If you purchase accessories, they won't be able to get them because the parts department is closed.
- A return visit to the dealership may impact some people more than others.
- You can flip the script on them if you are a "late night person" that negotiates well under pressure. The salesperson wants to get home so you can use their desire to leave against them and get THEM to give into your demands. This type of negotiation is not for everybody. You have to know your personality.
- If you hold firm on your offer, you'll avoid the annoying back and forth between the salesperson and the manager. They don't want to waste time, they'll get to the point quickly.
- Shopping First Thing In the Morning
- Not everybody is a morning person! If you're not, don't go to a dealership when they first open.
- Some dealerships aren't fully staffed at opening so you may have to wait.
- Plenty of time work on your deal. Even a smooth negotiation takes longer than you expect.
- If you purchase accessories, the parts and service departments will both be operating when you close the deal.
- You'll eliminate any stress about running into a snag with your insurance. Your agent will be in their office to take care of any issues.
2. Best Day of the Week
We worked closely with TrueCar to figure out what day of the week people get the best deals. As this chart shows, the most off MSRP occurs on Wednesdays.
In general, people get better prices on weekdays than weekends. The prices paid on Wednesday tend to be the lowest. Weekdays are similar, but to get the absolute best price, Wednesday will be the best time to buy a vehicle.
The reason for this fact is more people go shopping on weekends. With more customers in the building, the law of supply and demand kicks in. On weekends they don't have to discount as heavily because they have more sales opportunities. If a tough negotiator walks out, there is another customer 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. This 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.
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 if you are open to buying a current model year vehicle. If you are not flexible and are set on getting the next model year then this is NOT a good time for you. Dealerships are trying to clear older inventory. They don't want to incentivize people to purchase the new models that are just rolling in.
The new model year typically becomes available in large volume between September and October. When buying the previous model year, 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 you are interested in then, "jackpot," there will be all kinds of rebates and incentives available. This however, does not apply to buying a used car.
Like the end of the month, dealerships and salespeople have yearly goals and quotas to meet. For dealerships, 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 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 best time to buy a car is a generalization 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's Christmas Eve or Day). Our data shows the busiest car shopping days occur between Christmas and New Years, so be prepared for the crowds and be ready to be patient.
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.