When Is The Best Time To Purchase A New Vehicle

by | Aug 29, 2020

The best time to buy a car is when you really need one and feel inclined to buy, regardless of the time of the year. You can find good deals year-round if you do your research and are diligent in your search. 

However, there are better times to buy a vehicle where you are more likely to get an awesome price. With some luck, a bit of planning, and a lot of patience you can score a great deal on a vehicle. Here are the best times to buy:

Buy At The Beginning Of The Week

  • Monday 
  • Tuesday
  • Thursday 

Buy At The End… Of The Day, Month, and Year 

  • End of the business day
  • End of the month 
  • End of the model year 
  • End of the calendar year
  • End of the cars design cycle 
  • End of the cars life cycle

Utilize Holiday Sales

  • New years (Dec 31st)
  • Presidents day (Mid February): 
  • Memorial day (Late May)
  • 4th of July (July 4th)
  • Labor day (Early September)
  • Black Friday (Friday after Thanksgiving)

Best Months:

  • October (best for buying trucks)
  • November (best for buying sedans and compact vehicles)
  • December (best for buying SUVs) 

Buying a car is stressful, and it can take a long time! Purchasing a vehicle is one of the top ten biggest purchases the average person makes in their life (several times over of course). For this reason, it requires a ton of time and research before most consumers feel comfortable and ready to sign their name on the line.

It usually takes about a month for the average consumer just to decide what the make and model of the vehicle they want is. From there, the search process can take weeks to months to find the right car in the right location at the right price. Because of this, it can be challenging to fit the right car into the timeframe of “the best” time a year to purchase. Especially when that time frame is a specific weekend where everyone else has the same idea as you. 

If you know what you want and are willing to wait, and even let a good car slip out of your grasp because the timing was not right, you can absolutely save some money waiting for the right time of the year. Once you have your perfect car picked out, your next step is picking the best time to buy it. You won’t have to wait as long as you’d think. 

How It Works

Big sales days are meant to serve as a purchase incentive to car buyers, and they don’t come up by chance. Car dealerships have quotas to fill and numbers to hit, usually on a monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis. So what do they do when those quotas aren’t where they should be and their deadlines are approaching? 

Well, they throw sales where they slash prices and advertise with over the top TV commercials and a big blow-up dancing guy!  These sales generally happen at the same time each year for these reasons. Which is lucky for consumers, because it gives you time to make a plan. 

Everyone knows you shouldn’t pay sticker prices for a vehicle. You can typically get a vehicle between 7% and 8% below MSRP if you know how to haggle and when to buy. If you’re looking to maximize these savings there are other ways than just taking advantage of sales. 

Data given from Truecar.com, which lists millions of vehicles for sale from tens of thousands of dealerships around the country have come up with some shocking data of its own on when the best time (day, weeks, and months) is to buy a car. Some of these were quite unexpected, check it out. 

The Beginning Of The Week, Specifically Monday, Tuesday and Thursday

Most car buyers purchase a car on their weekends when their schedule is most free to spend hours waiting around a car dealership. It makes sense, but for this reason dealerships need your money less on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. 

For a car dealership, the longer a vehicle sits on their lot, the more money it is costing them. So on the days of the week where no one goes to buy a car (because they are so busy with work) the dealership is losing considerably more money sitting on their vehicles. Another factor that makes the beginning of the week an ideal time to shop also has to do with the demand on that particular day. 

On weekdays, when there are less people trying to buy a vehicle, your sales person has more time to go back and forth with you on price. Meaning they are less likely to get frustrated and refuse your offer. On average Monday,  has a half of a percentage price decrease from Sunday. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday are the best times to get a steal of a price on the car you have been eyeing. 

  • Monday 
  • Tuesday
  • Thursday 

Monday is without a doubt the best day of the week to purchase a car. People are crazy busy with the beginning of their work week meaning not many individuals have the time to spend 5 hours negotiating and signing paperwork. Thursday is going to be the next best day, closely followed by Tuesday. 

Wednesday is not a bad day of the week to try to purchase but statistically you are more likely to find a better deal on the days listed above. When you go to a car dealership Friday, Saturday or Sunday, you tend to be fighting a crowd of people, decreasing your chances of scoring the best deal you possibly can. 

Buy At The End

Of The Business Day

It is a great idea to go to a dealership as they are wrapping up their sales day. For a car dealership this isn’t even after your work day. Car dealerships and their employees have late hours and most sales people spend at least one day of their week at the dealership closing a sale past 10PM when the dealership is closed. 

At this point the dealership is very vested in the sale of the vehicle and a salesman or dealership who has had a bad day of sales is more motivated to move forward with a sale. 

Of The Month 

The end of the month is a great time to buy a vehicle because most dealerships have monthly sales incentives both at the employee and the executive level from either administration within the dealership or from the car manufacturer itself. 

This will again lead to a more motivated seller which will help you, the consumer, get the best price you can when purchasing from a dealership. 

Of The Model Year

When the next year’s model of a vehicle comes out, let’s say the 2021 Jeep Wrangler for instance, the previous year’s model will typically drop in price and significantly! When the 2021 Wrangler drops, the 2020 Wranglers drop in price. Some brands will see a higher percentage of price change than others but they will all drop in price and the older model usually comes with an incentive to buy such as a lower interest rate on your loan. 

This happens because dealerships are trying to get these leftover vehicles off of their lots. It is much easier for a dealership to sell vehicles that are the newest available. For this reason they suffer an opportunity cost of keeping “last year’s model” on the show floor. 

The sweet spot when buying model year end vehicles is generally at the end of summer, though it does vary from brand to brand and some new models don’t come out until spring of that year, others will come out as early as mid summer of the current year. 

The Drawbacks Of Buying Last Year’s Model

Yes, you may have gotten an awesome price on your new car which happens to be a year older than the newest models on the market, however this may not always be 100% positive for consumers who only hold onto their vehicles for a few years. Your purchase price was certainly lower, but so is the resale value. 

If you plan on reselling your car 2- 3 years after you purchased it, you should weigh your options carefully when choosing from last year and this year’s model. In most cases it is more valuable to buy the newer car because they hold their value a bit better. 

Of The Calendar Year

As the year draws to a close, dealerships are scrambling to hit their sales quotas for the year and to earn those big bonuses offered by their car manufacturers. Because of this the dealership is incentivised to offer a better price on the car to hit their targeted goals. 

In some cases, especially at the end of the month of December, dealerships are only a few sales away from hitting their numbers. In these cases it is the consumer who really gets the best deal if they are willing to take the time to negotiate on price and other value points. You can get a lower APR, a longer warranty, upgraded gear and technology packages, or pretty much anything you’re willing to negotiate for (within reason) at this time of the year. 

Of The Car Design Cycle (Before A Redesign) 

Every few years the model of a vehicle is redesigned by it’s manufacturer. The body style may change slightly to extremely, they may add in new technology options. The purpose of a redesign is to freshen the model with the current trends in the auto market. 

When a manufacturer announces a redesign, it can be an awesome time to buy the current model. Yes, you may not be getting the latest technology, but if you are more of a bargain hunter than a trendsetter, this can be a great time to buy. 

Of The Car’s Life Cycle (Discontinuation)

There comes a time for most vehicles when a manufacturer decides it is time to replace the concept with something fresher. Except of course in the case of the Ford Mustang, VW Bug and Chevrolet Corvette.  When a car is discontinued, it depreciates the existing models of that vehicle significantly. 

This is great for someone looking to purchase that model. The downside is that your resale value for the car (which should always be considered when making a purchase), will drop. For anyone hoping to keep their vehicle for 8- 10 years this may not matter as much. 

The Best Months To Buy

These are, statistically, the best months to buy a new or used vehicle. 

The Month Of May

May is a spectacular month to buy a car according to Truecar.com data. This is likely because the new model years begin to slowly hit the market in June and dealerships need to make room on their lots for their next shipment of inventory. May’s data showed a particular discount for buyers shopping for a mid size SUV. 

The Month Of October

October is, according to data, the best month of the year to buy a truck. It is also just a great month to buy a vehicle in general. At this point in the year, the new models have come out, so the dealership is trying to get rid of it’s older inventory before it is devalued. The best day of the month to buy in October is the 30th based on statistical data provided by Truecar.com. 

The Month Of November

November is the second best month out of the year to buy a vehicle. As you approach the end of the year, car dealerships are doing their best to clear out their lots and hit their sales targets. In particular, November is the best time to buy sedans and compact vehicles.

Black Friday deals also help to add to these stats. Black Friday deals go beyond the mall and tech stores. Black Friday is an excellent time to buy a car but, be warned, the dealerships will likely be packed with people trying to purchase a car. 

The Month Of December

December is the best time to buy a car. Period. In terms of average savings, consumers seem to be getting the best deals during this month in particular. Logically, this makes a lot of sense. Car dealerships are incentivised by big quarterly and end of the year bonuses. In turn, they incentivise their employees this way as well. 

So if a company or an employee is especially close to getting a fat check for hitting their numbers, it is only logical that they are going to do anything in their power to make those last few sales happen. It is the consumer who comes out on top in these marginal situations. For this reason the end of the month is usually the best time to go. 

Utilize Holiday Sales

Those obnoxious car commercials you see on local TV channels do typically lead to great deals on vehicles when buying from a dealership. Here are the best holiday sale days to invest in a car. 

New Years Eve  (Dec 31st)

As the calendar year draws to a close, car dealerships are desperately trying to close as many deals as possible before moving on to the next year with a fresh slate and empty quotas. Many dealerships are incentivised to drive sales with huge bonuses both at the upper and lower levels. People also love to give cars as a gift to loved ones over the holidays and they usually don’t bargain for them quite as much. This gives other buyers the added benefit of the dealership having more room to negotiate as the year draws to a close.

Presidents Day (Mid February)

Out of all of the holidays, this one is the least valuable discount wise to the customers. February typically offers the smallest discounts on MSRP. President’s Day is a great time to buy for February which is typically the worst month to buy a car. If you really need a car this month, President’s Day is when you should shop. 

Memorial Day (End Of May) 

The month of May can be a great time to buy because dealerships are beginning to clear out space on their lots for the newest year’s models which start to come out in mid summer. Memorial Day is another 3 Day weekend where car dealerships break out the big balloons and dancing inflatable guys. More than this, Memorial Day is the time of the year where you will have the most options in terms of color and option packages. 

The 4th Of July

America’s Independence Day generally brings great savings to the consumers in the car market.  July kicks off the 3rd quarter for dealerships and gives them a fresh quota. 4th of July sales are generally meant to give a push to fill those quotas early on in the quarter. Dealerships are also still trying to make room on their lots for incoming new models for the upcoming year and are motivated to move older models offering discounted prices as an incentive to buy for consumers. 

In some cases dealerships will have a mix of both outgoing year models and new upcoming cars so it can be a great opportunity to check out and test drive both if you are undecided on which year you want to buy. 

Labor Day (Early September)

As summer draws to a close, consumers tend to find a sweet spot for both options and pricing. While September isn’t generally the best time of the year to purchase, a consumer will have the optimal option to price ratio. Again you won’t get the best price, but you will have far more cars to choose from than if you were to wait until the closing months of the year. 

Black Friday (End Of November) 

The biggest retail shopping day of the year is renowned for shoppers waking up early or in some cases staying up all night to be first in line to get into a store promoting huge price slashes on the hot holiday gift items. People have been known to camp out for hours and even days to get the lowest prices on TVs and other electronics. 

Discounts go beyond the Best Buys and Walmarts of the world and dealerships in recent years have offered doorbuster savings to ride the wave of hype and dip into the colossal spending that takes place on this day of the year. Black Friday also typically signals the end of model year for most vehicle manufacturers and shoppers can find added savings. 

If you want to buy a car on Black Friday, you’re going to need to do some pre-Thanksgiving planning. Things you should complete before braving the crowds at a dealership on Black Friday include:

  1. Getting your current vehicle appraised so you know what it’s trade-in value is worth. 
  2. Get pre-approved for an auto loan if you require financing. 
  3. Read the fine print on any advertisements for Black Friday deals. 
  4. Test drive the exact vehicle(s) you are interested in. 

Other Great (And Terrible) Times To Buy

Outside of the specific months and days of the week, there are other exceptional times to buy. 

What Is The Slowest Month For Car Sales?

Typically it is after the holidays that car buying comes to a halt. People have spent their excess cash giving elaborate gifts and throwing hosting feasts. January and February are the slowest sales months for most dealerships. These months are typically the worst time of the year to buy a vehicle. 

When Is The Best Time To Buy A Used Car?

The best time to buy a used vehicle is at the same time that people are buying their new ones! As people buy new cars they will typically get rid of their used vehicles, either selling in separate transactions consumer to consumer style, auctions, or trading them in for their new cars. 

The best times to buy a used car will be between the months of October and December with greater savings being found the later in the year that you wait to purchase. 

Is it a good time to buy a vehicle amidst a global health pandemic?

Yes! Buying a car amidst Covid19 is actually a really great idea if you have the income to do so. More and more people have found themselves out of work as businesses are forced to shut down by their local and state governments as a preventative measure taken to attempt to contain the spread of the deadly disease. While it is incredibly sad that so many individuals have fallen on hard times in this pandemic, it also means that the demand for almost all unessential consumer goods has come to a practical standstill. 

As an economics teacher has likely told you in the past, price is influenced by demand. The more people who want a particular good or service, the more expensive the manufacturer or distributor can sell the item. Current demand for new and used vehicles is low both from lack of economic security that many people are facing and the fact that most individuals aren’t driving much these days. 

Wait Until The Next Years Models Come Out To Buy This Year’s

A great way to save money when buying a newer vehicle is to buy this year’s model after next year’s models come out. New vehicles drop a lot in value once the latest and greatest version comes out, making it the perfect time to buy that brand new model that was the hottest thing say two months ago and now has dropped in price several thousands of dollars. 

So when does the next model year typically come out? It’s actually not a simple question anymore and the answer is that it depends. The range is typically the summer before the year starts to spring of that year. Typically, most vehicle manufacturers release the new year model in the fall before. This is meant as a marketing ploy to boost sales over the holidays. 

Negotiating A Fair Price

Negotiations are very important when it comes to buying a car. We all know that you never settle for the advertised price, but what is the best method for negotiating when it comes to buying a car. An expert source comes from a past vehicle salesman at Mercedes Benz who is sharing all of the behind the scene secrets as well as the tricks of some of the best negotiators he saw over his time selling vehicles. Check out his video below. 

In closing you can negotiate a fair and even a great price year round by utilizing patience, research and some truly great negotiation skills. By utilizing the best days out of the week, month and year you can save yourself even more money and probably some time negotiating with a salesman who is motivated to give you what you want. Remember: 

Buy At The Beginning Of The Week

  • Monday 
  • Tuesday
  • Thursday 

Buy At The End… Of The Day, Month, and Year 

  • End of the business day
  • End of the month 
  • End of the model year 
  • End of the calendar year
  • End of the cars design cycle 
  • End of the cars life cycle

Utilize Holiday Sales

  • New years (Dec 31st)
  • Presidents Day (Mid February): 
  • Memorial Day (Late May)
  • 4th of July (July 4th)
  • Labor Day (Early September)
  • Black Friday (Friday after Thanksgiving)

Best Months:

  • May
  • October (best for buying trucks)
  • November (best for buying sedans and compact vehicles)
  • December (best for buying SUVs) 

Resources:

https://www.google.com/search?q=when+is+the+best+time+to+buy+a+car&oq=when+is+the+best+time+to+&aqs=chrome.0.0j69i57j0l6.6266j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8
https://www.bankrate.com/loans/auto-loans/when-is-the-best-time-to-buy-a-car/#:~:text=The%20months%20of%20October%2C%20November,together%20late%20in%20the%20year.
https://www.edmunds.com/car-buying/when-to-buy-your-next-car.html
https://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/blog/best-time-of-year-to-buy-a-car/
https://cars.usnews.com/cars-trucks/best-times-to-buy-a-car
https://www.caranddriver.com/features/a32619514/buy-a-car/
https://www.consumerreports.org/buying-a-car/now-may-be-the-right-time-to-buy-a-new-car/
https://www.cnbc.com/2017/05/25/6-best-times-to-buy-a-car.html
https://www.consumerreports.org/buying-a-car/is-now-the-right-time-to-buy-a-car/
https://www.edmunds.com/car-buying/when-to-buy-your-next-car.html#:~:text=Best%20Time%20to%20Buy%20a%20Used%20Car,entering%20the%20used%20car%20inventory.
https://www.autotrader.com/car-shopping/buying-car-how-much-discount-can-you-get-end-model-year-243364
https://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/blog/best-time-of-year-to-buy-a-car/#:~:text=January%20and%20February%20are%20the,off%20after%20the%20Christmas%20holidays.
https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2013/10/23/best-time-to-buy-a-new-car/3170251/

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