When's the Best Time to Buy a Car?

Fran Majidi
June 3, 2019

Did you know that you can save hundreds, maybe even thousands, of dollars if you buy a car at the right time? Also, if you are in the market to lease or own a car soon, it’s probably best that you become as familiar as possible with the different options and about how much people are paying for the vehicle you want. You’re more likely to get a good deal if you know price ranges, even on options and accessories. When you are not familiar with the price ranges others are paying, it’s much easier to get duped into a more expensive contract on a new car.

After you buy a car, there are other considerations. Remember that the more expensive your car is, the higher the car insurance quotes on that car too. As soon as you’re ready to buy, make sure to get the best auto insurance quotes online from a comparison-shopping engine like the one at SmartFinancial.

Best Time to Buy a Car

End-of-the-year sales are always full of great potential. Dealers are always more open to lowering sticker prices at this time. They need to move inventory to create room for the new year’s fleet. It’s also the end of their fiscal year so they’ll want to close as many deals as possible before the year ends. Cars are also given as big Christmas and Chanukah gifts. The absolute best time of year to buy a car is the last week of December, with the last two days of the month as the best by far. Dealers will be willing to do just about anything to hit the highest sales numbers, even if it means compromising their commission.  

When Is the Best Time to Buy a Car if You Can’t Wait Until Year’s End?

If you can’t wait until New Year’s Eve to put the pressure on a dealer, at least wait until the end of the month. While dealers are more aggressively pushing cars at the end of the year, they also are more apt to aim for target monthly sales figures by getting rid of as many cars as possible at the end of the month. Often there are incentives to buy, and the manufacturer’s website is where you can find all the information you need. After you price the car you want and have all the information about the incentive, go to the dealership and pick out your car. Wait until the very end of the month to buy or lease. You may lose the car you initially picked out in the process or you may save thousands on it -- your gamble.

How About Holiday Sales, Like July 4th?

Any holiday is the best time to buy a new car, really. There are some really great incentives during holidays, like on Memorial Day or Labor Day, when dealerships need to move more cars out the door. You may even be able to get extra discounts if there are too many cars of the same model on the lot. Take a look around always. When you see too much of something, it means that you can talk your way into getting a great price for it. If you don’t like driving what everyone else is driving and you’re looking to save, this is a great way to shop.

How About Car Shopping Online?

If you haven’t noticed, car shopping online is exactly what manufacturers want you to do. That’s why nearly every car maker lets you create your ideal car online. You often great deals too, whether you’re financing or leasing a car. You can even get the trade-in value of your current.car and all your payment details before buying. It’s up to you to consider buying a car you haven’t test driven yet. Many people are uncomfortable passing up a test drive and landing a lemon car instead, but if you can stomach it, you may be able to lower the online price on a car even more. The advice about buying as late as possible in December or at least the tail end of every month also applies to online car shopping.

Best Time to Buy a Used Car

Being in a rush doesn’t help when you’re trying to get a good deal. You need the right conditions to get a price lowered. It’s a good idea to start looking before your current lease is up or if you think your current car may soon fail you. When you shop, you’ll want there to be a large inventory of cars on the dealership lot, which usually pushes prices down. Also, three specific holidays have the best deals on used cars: Veteran’s Day, Black Friday and Christmas Eve. Both private sellers and dealerships will lower prices around this time, to make room for new cars. If you’re looking to buy a previously leased car, many are being returned during these times too. At the end of the month, sales managers push both new and used car sales with lower pricing on most vehicles. At the beginning of the month, you’ll see many more trade-in cars to choose from. If you’re solely interested in buying from private owners, you will probably pay less for a car in winter than in spring.

Off-Season Shopping

Buy a car when it is in lower demand. People splurge for instant gratification (top down in summer) so buy a convertible or a car with a sunroof during winter or buy an SUV in summer.  When demand for a particular car is high, it’s hard to get the owner or dealership to lower prices. Most dealerships may be ahead of you with this move by shifting inventory from one location to another, but this strategy often works well with private sellers.

Manufacturer Supported Financing Incentives

Don’t underestimate how much you save with a low interest rate. Often there are offers to finance at zero or one percent by manufacturers, a deal which can’t be beat, especially not when market interest rates are much higher. While these offers are more plentiful for new cars, you will find automaker deals on certified pre-owned vehicles (CPO) too. However, you’ll notice that the cars with COP deals may have a higher sticker price. Do some number crunching to see which offer saves you the most. Yeah, show up to the dealer with your calculator!

Auto Shows

Whenever there are auto shows, there are lots of trade-ins on the market in the area so it’s a great way to go if you’re shopping for a used car. Also, because auto shows draw crowds to certain areas, you’ll find lots of deals on new and used cars at dealerships nearby. The car advertising on television, radio and print around these times does it’s magic, and there will be people shopping for new cars for weeks after the local car show ends.

Older Models

Each time a newly designed model comes out, many buyers want the latest technology so they trade in their older model for the newer ones. This is a great time to snap up an older model that is still fairly new. You may also find a brand new older model that’s been sitting on the lot. It’s not ideal for cars to sit for very long, but if the car has a few hundred miles on it from test drives, it should be a-okay. It will also still be under warranty.


Whether you’re financing or leasing, buying insurance is expensive because full protection is required. Nearly all lienholders (even when it’s the manufacturer doing the lending) require that you carry collision and comprehensive insurance. The reason for this is if you have an accident, they want to be paid for the value of the car despite the catastrophe. The lower the value of the car, the lower your car insurance premiums will be. It’s always a good idea to compare car insurance quotes to get the best rates. For free car insurance quotes, visit SmartFinancial.

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