Just like coffee in the morning, barbecues in the summer, or pumpkin-spice-everything in the fall, some things are just better during certain times of day or year. Buying a car is no different. When you’re making a purchase as significant as a car, it’s important to have all the information you can on how—and when—to have the best shopping experience.
When to Buy a Car
First thing’s first. Before you head to the dealership, make sure you’ve researched how to buy a car. When you’re ready to go car shopping, check the clock or calendar to see if it matches one of these times.
Mid-Day & Mid-Week
The last way anyone wants to appear at a car dealership is desperate or anxious. Coming in at an off-peak time, like the middle of the day or the middle of the week, gives off an air of relaxedness. That—along with the knowledge gained from researching your purchase—will go a long way in the negotiating process.
Dealers who need to keep their numbers up are also typically more willing to work with a buyer during the slower hours of the day or week.
The Last or First Week of the Month
This is directly related to the quotas maintained at most car dealers and dealerships. While those numbers are often tallied by the end of the month, many dealerships will extend their quotas into the first week of the following month.
Generally, during these times, dealers are more likely to cut a deal or be more lenient in negotiation.
At the End or Very Beginning of the Calendar Year
If you have the time to wait until the holiday season to buy a car, you may be able to snag the best purchase price of the year.
That’s because, at the end of the year, many dealers are focused on off-loading older inventory to make way for newer models on their lots. Similar to their monthly quotas, dealerships also often have yearly quotas to fill, which may result in a better deal.
Many people are also not as financially sound after their holiday spending. This makes the first few weeks of January a very slow time of year for most dealerships—and a good time to negotiate a better price on your car.
At the End of the Model Year
Dealers will also try to clear out old inventory once the new model year of cars are released. This is TYPICALLY near the end of the calendar year, though it may be earlier depending on the make and model. It’s best to check a specific car manufacturer’s website for the most accurate information on when a new model will be rolled out.
Watch out for cars with lots of design changes included in the new model. These will make the previous year model cars look even more outdated, and likely make dealers more eager to sell off the older cars.
When NOT to Buy a Car
Following the principal of supply and demand, it’s generally more expensive to buy something when the demand for it is highest. For a new model of car, this would be right after it hits the market.
Springtime has also been a historically bad time of year to buy a car. With winter weather thawing, people are more likely to frequent outdoor shopping areas like car dealerships, and more people will have bounced back from big holiday spending, thanks in part to their tax returns.