Maybe you inherited some money, your old junker broke down or you do this every five years. Those are all great reasons to get a new car, but that doesn’t mean they’re the best time to buy a car. But, when is the best time to buy a car? Probably not when you’d think, according to experts like Credit Karma and TrueCar. To get the best value and the most appealing package from a car dealer or individual seller, consider this:
Ads aren’t good indicators
There’s no denying that certain times of the year and even specific days are better than others when you’re purchasing a new car. “You may be able to save thousands of dollars if you time a new car purchase carefully. While there’s no single best time of the year to head to the dealership, there are common times when you may be able to get a deal,” credit card expert Ben Luthi explained on the Credit Karma website.
But here’s where some surprises come in. While you might think you’d get the lowest prices and the highest value during those federal holiday summer weekends, that’s not always so. Dealerships may blast a lot of ads about financing deals and price slashing then, but other times are better for buyers. TrueCar, for example, analyzed industry sales data from more than 12 million car purchases in a five-year period and concluded that New Year’s Day is the very best time to get the most bang for your buck. It based that finding by computing the average percentage off Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price for each day of the year.
TrueCar also highlighted certain months that would yield the best MSRP reductions for certain types of vehicle. The best month to purchase a midsize SUV, for example, is during the month of May. But if you want a small or premium SUV, gear your search for December. The best time to buy cars that are midsize or compact? That would be November, according to TrueCar, and October is tops for getting a great value on large trucks.
‘D’ is for December and discounts
Keep in mind, just because these dates and days have worked well for bargain hunters in the past is no guarantee that marketing strategies won’t shift in the coming years. “No rule exists that dealers must increase discounts during a particular time of the week, month or year,” Kelsey Mays, senior editor of Cars.com, told the Huffington Post. Mays still feels good about car shopping in December, though, since that’s the month dealers traditionally close out old inventory at rock bottom prices. And if you’re looking for incentives beyond just a lower car price, December is usually the best time to buy a car. “Luxury brands, which seldom advertise big incentives, traditionally juice up lease and finance deals this month, often marketing them as opportunities to surprise loved ones with a holiday gift,” Mays added.
Note, though, lots of others will also be trying to buy bargain cars in December, especially during the frantic week that follows Christmas. To get ahead of the pack, make sure to research the makes and models you are most likely to purchase and figure out who sells them. Stop by the dealership you’re planning to buy from on Thanksgiving weekend. That way, you’ll know how they operate and it will just be a matter of evaluating the best deal when MSRP slashing begins. And you might pick up a good deal in the course of doing your research since Thanksgiving weekend is also a great time to score car deals.
The best day to buy a car
If you don’t have the luxury of waiting for New Year’s, December, Thanksgiving or other holiday weekends, try to control the timing as best you can. Monday is the best day of the week to buy a car if you’re cost-conscious, followed by Thursday and then Wednesday. And if you can put off negotiating a car purchase until the end of the month, that’s when most car dealership salespeople have quotas to fill and might be in the mood to slash prices.