January 4, 2018

The Best Time to Buy a Car


Having to deal with car dealers may seem like an intimidating ordeal. But it doesn’t have to be! Equip yourself with knowledge about how the auto industry and car dealers themselves work. With that information, you can make the best choice on when to buy a car and get the best deal you can.

Use this guide to see what time of year, what day of the week and even what time of day is best to make this large, important purchase:

The Best Month To Buy a Car

Just like it’s cheaper to buy a winter coat in the spring, purchase outdoor furniture in late fall or scoop up next year’s Christmas tree in January, there is a time of year where cars will automatically be less expensive. Plan to buy your next car during the fall or winter months to capitalize on two things: 1. End of the year deals –Dealerships will discount cars to move inventory and make sales goals towards the end of every quarter and especially towards the end of the year. 2. Post model change — After the next year models have been released, the still-new cars on the dealership are not valued as highly, as they no longer the newest, most advanced models to purchase. Often, purchasing in the colder months can net you a car that is still brand new, but minus a few minors differences from the next year’s model. Plus, these cars are discounted to inspire buyers to make a purchase and move inventory off the lot.

In these months, try to purchase your car in the last days of those months. If you hit the final days of the month, car dealers have more incentive to lower the price for you to help them make their monthly sales goals. Try the post-Christmas/pre-New Year’s week to secure some great deals and avoid big crowds. Call it a belated Christmas gift to yourself and your finances.

Bottom line: Buy your car in November or December

What month to NOT buy a car: Avoid the spring months like March and April. This is when inventory is high, new models are still the newest on the market and people have tax returns sweetening their car deals. Auto dealers know all this and are less likely to cut a deal.

The Best Day of the Week to Buy a Car

Auto research by TrueCar.com shows buying a car at the end of a weekend, like Sunday, leads to deeper discounts as salesmen are trying to make deals to meet weekly goals. Also, car shopping during the slow hours of the typical work day during the early part of the week is always a solid plan. Go when the dealership is known to be slow and you’ll not only have your salesperson’s undivided attention, he or she will have more time to haggle with you – and more desire, since you’re his only fish on the line!

Bottom line: Take a Sunday stroll to the car dealership, or take off Monday to make your deal.

What day of the week to NOT buy a car: Avoid the craziness of Friday and Saturday, but especially steer clear of Friday. Research has shown consumers spend about $2,000 more on a car purchased on Friday than if they waited to purchase the same car on Sunday.

The Best Time of Day to Buy a Car

It might sound silly to think that you can get a better price on your car if you go at a certain time of day, but it’s true. Do your purchasing late in the day for the best deal. Obviously, buying a car often takes a long time – between test driving, comparing features and checking availability of makes and models. So, break up your car shopping to shift between your car searching and car purchasing. Go early in the day (or spread over several days) and shop at a leisurely pace. Don’t let the dealership get you in a rush. Once you’ve decided what you want, start the negotiation process, but don’t settle on a deal. Once you believe you are close to what you want, wait until close to closing time to go back and seal the deal. Often, when faced with the prospect of making a sale that day or not making one, the dealership will continue to lower the price to make the sale before close of business.

Bottom line: Don’t rush the shopping and negotiating process, but deliver the sale near closing time.

What time of day to NOT buy a car: Avoid the morning hours when car dealers have all day to get the paperwork done and not a ton of incentive to haggle with you.

This article is for educational purposes only. Tulsa FCU makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness, or specific suitability of any information presented. Information provided should not be relied on or interpreted as legal, tax or financial advice. Nor does the information directly relate to our products and/or services terms and conditions.