Best Time To Buy A Car: Shopping On These Days And Months Will Save You Tons Of Money

If you’ve ever found yourself wondering when is the best time to buy a new car, the answer is — it depends. What many regard as the best car-shopping day of the year is almost upon us: New Year’s Eve. Yet the best car deals, incentives and promotions aren’t confined to any one day or month.


Yes, timing matters and can make a big difference for maximum car savings. But other things matter too.

When Is The Best Time To Buy A Car?

Black Friday and public holidays offer big car savings. So do certain months, such as October, November and December. The end of a month or quarter, like the end of the year, usually means good deals. Look out for model changeover periods too. They typically happen in the late summer into fall. Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve are particularly good times. So are other low-customer-traffic times, such as early in the week.

Best Day Of The Year To Buy A New Car

New data from TrueCar (TRUE) shows that Dec. 31 is a great day to buy a new vehicle, with an average savings of 10.9% off MSRP. More generally, December is the best month to buy a new car. Buyers save an average of 10.3% off MSRP.

That would mean a savings of $4,258 on a purchase of $41,338 — the average price for a new car this month .

Savings tend to increase as the year goes on, as dealerships look to meet quarterly and annual sales goals. And outgoing model year vehicles get heavily discounted to make way for the new models.

“This typically leads to additional manufacturer incentives, which explains why holiday sales events are such a big deal,” said TrueCar analyst Nick Woolard.

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The car info and pricing site offers this general rule: In order of preference, the best time to buy a new car is the end of the year followed by the end of the quarter and end of the month.

Best Time To Buy A Car: Labor Day, Black Friday, Holidays

Other public and stock market holidays for the best car deals include Memorial Day (in late May) and Black Friday (in late November). In addition, President’s Day, July 4th and Labor Day are some of the best times to buy. And you can expect great savings during the week of Christmas.

Incentive programs, such as special financing rates, zero-percent loans and cash-back offers for buyers, tend to appear on the long holiday weekends.

Don’t have excellent credit? Those attractive holiday promotions are unlikely to get you a great deal, said Brian Moody, executive editor at Autotrader, an online platform for car shoppers. Even if it’s one of the best times to buy a car.

Best Time To Buy A Car: End Of The Year

In general, October through December are the best months of the year to buy a car.

For both buyers and sellers, a new year just begs for a fresh lineup of cars, resulting in hefty discounts on outgoing-year models.

“Dealers don’t want to have last year’s model on the showroom floor, even if they are completely new, with no miles on the odometer,” said Eric Lyman, TrueCar’s senior vice president of industry insights.

Best Time To Buy A Car: End Of Month And Quarter

Similarly, shopping at the end of a month or quarter is helpful, Autotrader’s Moody said.

Monthly and quarterly sales targets loom for both dealerships and their sales staff, with bonuses at stake.

Some car-buying experts point out the actual sales deadlines may fall a few days before month-end. So consider targeting the 27th, 28th or 29th day of the month, rather than the very last day.

In terms of months, there’s another thing to think about. Some vehicles, like SUVs and trucks, sell briskly year round. Others, not so much.

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“If you’re in Michigan and you want a convertible, the middle of winter might get you a better deal,” Moody said.

Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day

Many car-buying experts say the best day of the year for car buying is the very last day. Monthly, quarterly, and annual sales targets all converge on Dec. 31, so great deals abound.

But New Year’s Day may rival New Year’s Eve as the best day to buy.

“From a sales reporting standpoint, because of the New Year’s Day holiday, the first and second day of January falls into the December sales reporting month for dealers,” said TrueCar’s Lyman.

The car-buying experience may be different this holiday season due to Covid-19. But various dealerships and car shopping sites, including TrueCar, CarGurus (CARG) and Autotrader, are partnering on “buy from home” options.

Meanwhile, Moody considers Christmas Eve one of the best days. The salespeople at dealerships just want to get home. “That raises the likelihood of getting a good deal.”

Best Time To Buy A Car: Early In The Week

Car buying experts find shopping early in the week helps. Auto dealers get busier as the weekend nears, and savings get smaller.

Sunday offers maximum savings — averaging 10% off MSRP, TrueCar finds. The worst day of the week to buy is Thursday, with savings at just 9% off MSRP, a full point lower than the best day to buy. In states that don’t allow car sales on Sunday, Tuesday is the next best day to buy, according to TrueCar.

Broadly speaking, lower traffic days at dealerships helps you nab a better car deal. Think weekdays, rainy days, depth-of-winter days. “If there’s no special deal going on and it’s a Saturday, everyone will be there,” Autotrader’s Moody said.

His advice? Be flexible. Think whether you really have to have the orange car or heated steering wheel. “If you want the best deal, buy the car they already have (in stock).”

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Best Time To Buy A Car: Model Changeovers

Autotrader also recommends watching for model changeovers, which can produce big savings.

New car models get discounted when fresh versions or updates appear. A prior-year model can offer almost all the same features as the current-year model at a far lower price.

New car models typically arrive in September and October, so the end of summer tends to mean good deals at dealerships on outgoing-year models.

Often, extra-big deals are found on models being redesigned or discontinued, as sellers make room for more desirable vehicles. Those savings can, in turn, pad your retirement nest egg or your rainy day fund.

On the flip side, you may not get your first choice in terms of color or trim.

More Car Buying Tips

Moody offers this tip to car buyers: Don’t go shopping the same day you’re buying. In that respect, buying a car is like buying a house.

Research the vehicle and options you want in advance. Know your credit score and how much car you can afford. Test drive the vehicle in advance. Equally important, test drive the technology, whether it’s the backup camera or the forward collision monitoring.

“The technology might have a greater impact on your life than just how powerful the engine is,” Moody said.

Lyman calls the best time to buy a car a personal decision, one that’s best made with common sense. “You can time the market but if your car is just limping along, the costs of having a big vehicle event (on your current car) might offset any saving you would get.”


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