Here's the Very Best Time to Buy a New Car—and the Very Worst Time
By Jake Rossen
Shopping for a new car can be a challenge. In addition to figuring out what make and model suits your lifestyle best, features and accessories can make the decision even more confusing. All of it affects the sale price, and even if the seller is willing to negotiate, it can be hard to know if you’re getting the best deal possible.
As it turns out, the time of year can have an enormous influence on the cost of the vehicle. If you want the greatest amount of leverage, try to buy in December. Here’s why.
According to MarketWatch, dealers are offered incentives by automobile manufacturers based on their sales volume. The dealer might receive a cash rebate, or they might get an opportunity to continue selling popular models. Depending on the manufacturer, they might even get a bonus for every car sold, making it worthwhile to sell a car at or below cost if it means getting hundreds of dollars more for every other car moved off the lot. Whatever the incentive, it benefits the dealer to move inventory.
Those quotas are typically measured by month, by quarter, and by year. In December, all of those goals come together, and a dealer is likely more willing to come down on the price of a vehicle to satisfy their sales objectives before the end of the calendar year.
Because quotas are measured monthly and quarterly, it also makes sense to try and buy at the end of the month or the end of a quarter—March, June, September, and December.
Remember that this approach works best for new cars. Used cars don’t normally have the same quotas or incentives attached. Because the value of trade-in cars increase toward the end of the year, you might find the best prices and selection in the fourth quarter.
More anecdotally, you might also find better deals on a Monday compared to the rest of the week, as less foot traffic means a salesperson probably has more time to find ways to save you money.
The worst time to buy? Avoid going early in the month. Dealers aren’t as concerned with meeting quotas. And avoid Saturdays. Because people tend to go car shopping on weekends, the rush of customers means dealers have less time to negotiate and more opportunities to sell.