The Best Time to Buy a Car

Did you know that shopping at the right time can boost your chances of getting a really good car deal? Dealerships and individual salespeople have quotas to meet, so purchasing a vehicle during the last few days of a month, in late summer and early fall, or even around a major holiday like Christmas can often be the best time to make deals. Potential buyers should even consider shopping after very bad weather—when the roads clear just after a snowstorm, for instance. Any time when few people are out and about is a good time to be shopping for a car.

As auto companies get ready for their annual new-model introduction, dealers are eager to get rid of the old models. Usually this type of model-year shopping works best in July, August, and early September ahead of the traditional Oct. 1 start of the model year. Also consider late December when almost everyone is at the mall rushing to finish holiday shopping.

Although picking the right time of year to go car shopping can potentially help you get the best deal, you should still be prepared with research and a pragmatic target price so you can make the most of your good timing.

Fortunately, the internet makes it easy to find once-elusive cost data that will tell you how ready a dealer is to deal on a given model. Websites like Kelley Blue Book (kbb.com), Edmunds.com, and MSN Autos (autos.msn.com) show the dealer cost or invoice price in addition to the list price or manufacturers’ suggested retail price (MSRP). Whenever you are shopping, always start negotiating from the invoice price, not the MSRP. Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds also show what typical consumers actually paid for a given model in your region based on your zip code. If you are shopping for a slow-selling model, you can aim for a deal near invoice price and sometimes even lower. Make sure you do not let the sales person bring the rebate into the negotiations. You are entitled to that from the manufacturer no matter what price you negotiate. 

Even if you get a great deal, do not forget the cardinal rule of car buying: Plan ahead for your financing. Get pre-approved auto financing from DoverPhila Federal Credit Union before you ever go car shopping.