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When is the Best Time to Buy a Car?

Car shoppers that take advantage of sophisticated internet search tools to research and compare vehicles are usually well-positioned to find a good deal on a car or truck. In addition to utilizing one or more online vehicle comparison sites to locate competitively priced vehicles, consumers can find additional savings by considering certain intangible parts of the sales process to get the best deal possible. Among many factors that inform the sales process, knowing when it's the best time to buy a new car can help you get a great deal. 

Be strategic and plan your dealership visit

Many shoppers know that the best time of year to buy a car is at the end of the year to yield significant savings. Dealerships often offer special year-end pricing to move older models off the lot and meet their annual sales goals. While waiting until the end of the year is a good option, there are other ways to uncover savings while sifting through the many listings you find when searching for a car. You can also save a lot by simply waiting until the end of the month. On the last day of the month, you can often find a salesperson who’s more willing to offer deals and incentives so he can meet his monthly sales goals. If you can be flexible in the timing of your purchase, try to shoot for the end of a month that falls at the end of a three-month sales quarter (March, June, September, December). Sales quotas exist for each quarter, and the end of a quarter can further motivate a salesperson to lower a price. 

If you don’t want to wait until the end of the year to purchase your next car, you can also visit the dealership at the end of the summer. While year-end deals get the most coverage, next-year’s car models come out during the current year, which means dealers try to move out the current year’s model to make room for the new ones. As such, you can sometimes find a car that, while technically new, is a year old from a model year standpoint.1 According to one industry expert, depending on how many of last year’s models are still in inventory, you could save anywhere from $2000 to $8000.2

Economic trends for car shopping

Finally, macroeconomic trends can also impact car prices. When the economy struggles, fewer consumers buy cars, meaning dealers are even more eager to make a sale. During the recent Great Recession, car sales fell to record lows and ready-to-buy consumers enjoyed great deals.3 While waiting for an economic downturn when car shopping is hardly practical, it’s useful to know how larger economic patterns can affect everyday purchases.

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