Best Time of the Year to Buy a Car
End of the Month
When the month is coming to an end, dealers might be a few cars short of a sales quota that would win them a big bonus. Salespeople will have more motivation to make a deal with a buyer and might deeply discount cars, making up any money lost with the bonus. This is the time when you shouldn't sleep on the car deal. Keep in mind, however, that if the sales team met its quota earlier that month, salespeople may not be as motivated to give you the screaming deal you might be expecting. This is difficult to know ahead of time, but if you're in the midst of negotiating and the dealer offers you a super-low price, take a moment to ask your salesperson why the dealer is willing to potentially lose money on this sale. If the reason makes sense to you, and the price is considerably better than your research says it should be, it could be a sign the dealer is trying to make a sales goal.
If you're feeling nervous about buying in a short end-of-month timeframe, test-drive the car in which you're interested earlier in the month and close the deal as the end of the month approaches. Also, many new-car incentive offers are good for a few days after the month ends, which gives you a bit of a buffer.
End of the Calendar Year
If your primary objective is to buy or lease a new car at the best price possible, Edmunds data indicates that December's year-end sales events will give you a "perfect storm" of savings.
You should look for a vehicle from the outgoing model year that has generous incentives. According to Edmunds data, December has the year's highest discount off MSRP (6.1 percent on average) and the highest incentives. In recent years, it also has had the largest inventories, with more vehicles from the outgoing model year on dealer lots. Automakers and dealerships want to close the year with strong sales. They also want to get rid of the prior model-year cars that are taking up space, so they're motivated.
Each manufacturer handles the "sell-down" differently, so some car dealerships will have a better selection of outgoing year vehicles late in the year, while the pickings may be slim at others. Be sure to check Edmunds' Incentives & Rebates for customer cash rebates, low interest incentives and lease specials.
Best Month to Buy a Car
While the data shows that December is the best time of the year to buy, there are also a few other viable months. In other words, if you need a car in January, there's no need wait 11 months to get a good deal.
The discounts on new cars typically follow a trend that coincides with the introduction of new models. In general, the more new cars there are coexisting with old models, the better the savings.
Least Discounted Months
Better Discounted Months
Most Discounted Months
January through April are generally slow selling months and have the smallest discounts off MSRP. In fact, the month with the smallest amount off MSRP is February, with an average discount of 5.7 percent. Things get better in the summer months: The introduction of new cars drives down prices on the outgoing models. And finally, the discounts improve the most the closer you get to the end of the year.
If you need a car in October and want to get the best deal, you might want to wait until December, even though you'll run the risk of having fewer cars to choose from. This will give you additional time to do more research on the right car for you. You'll also be able to get more price quotes.
Best Day to Buy a Car
Early in the Week: This tip is more about the level of attention you can expect from a salesperson than about getting a killer deal. Weekends are typically the busiest time at a dealership. The salesperson might be juggling multiple customers, and the finance office is likely to be a bottleneck. If you show up on a Monday or Tuesday, however, there will be less foot traffic. You can ask plenty of questions and the transaction should take far less time. In some parts of the country, however, dealerships are closed on Sundays. And as a result, Monday is a pretty busy day of the week. If that's the case for you, go on a Tuesday or Wednesday.