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Car buyers should be regaling; car sales have slipped for the second straight year, sending car manufacturers and dealers into a state of panic. A combination of an inventory glut of new cars and an increasing inventory of perfectly fine and much less expensive late model used cars are forcing manufacturers and dealers to offer the biggest discounts on new cars since the Great Recession. For the first three months of 2017, dealers have been discounting their new cars by an average of $3,900.
It would seem that now or just about any time is the right time to go out and buy that new car, right? With that sort of average discount, you can’t go wrong; but, you could also do a lot better. There is still a right time and a wrong time to buy a new car and the difference could mean hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars more in savings. By all means, you could take advantage of the car dealer’s current plight, but you could also use market timing to increase your advantage.
Unquestionably, there are specific times of the year when car dealers are more anxious to move cars off the lot. There are also certain days of the month and week when you are more likely to negotiate a better deal. In fact, you can increase your chances of getting the best deal by walking on to the lot at a certain time of day. If you are not under any kind of time constraint in buying your next car, you can use the calendar to pinpoint the best time to buy a car.
Best Time of the Year to Buy a Car
Regardless of the time of year you buy your car, the best times for negotiating a good deal typically come at the end of the month, or even better, the end of a quarter-ending month. Nothing motivates a dealer and a salesperson more than their monthly and quarterly sales bonuses. If you really want to drive them crazy, wait until the final hour on one of those days to start your negotiation. Walking onto the car lot a couple of hours before closing on any day can net you a good deal because salespeople can be anxious to close one last deal before going home after ten hours on their feet.
As far as the best day of the week, Mondays and Tuesdays are the best because they are typically the slowest days of the week. You definitely want to avoid the weekends because they are the busiest. Many car dealers will hold over holiday specials into the following week, so you don’t have to feel rushed into going on a busy weekend.
Best Time in the Spring
Spring is generally not a good time for new car deals because the good weather draws out all the car buyers who have been waiting out the cold winter. There are plenty of potential buyers on the car lots in the spring, so dealers don’t feel it necessary to cut any great deals. The first real opportunity to find good deals is the Memorial Day weekend, which is when you will find big rebates and special financing offers.
Best Time in the Summer
The July 4th holiday sale can also be a big rebate event on dealer lots. This can be even bigger because it is also the time when many dealers begin accepting next year’s models, creating some incentive to start moving the current year’s models off the lot. However, it is generally the late summer months when dealers get a little more anxious to move inventory. Late August or early September, especially over the Labor Day weekend are active times.
Best Time in the Fall
If you missed the Labor Day weekend sales event, you can still find good deals through the fall because dealers must make room for new models. The last week of October has been known to be a great time to negotiate a deal on a current year model.
Best Time in the Winter
Winter may very well be the best time of the year to purchase a car. Within winter, New Year’s Eve is the last day of the month, the quarter, and the year. This is usually when all sales quotas converge with the first and last opportunity for salespeople and dealers to earn a monthly, quarterly, and big annual bonus based on a single day’s sales. Dealers are willing to give up profits because they will more than offset them with bonuses. The only downside of waiting too long in the calendar year to buy a current model year car is that the inventory is much smaller, and the specific model you want may not be available.
A great strategy for getting your best deal on New Year’s Eve is to begin talking with a salesperson early in the morning; tell them you need to think about it; and then return to close the deal an hour before the dealership closes. You could be celebrating a new year in a deeply discounted new car.
Author: Jeff Gitlen