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When's the Best Time of Year to Buy a Car?

Published: January 2020

Knowing when it's the best time to buy a car can be tricky because the short answer is, it depends. The market for cars isn't an exact science, and determining the right time to buy may depend on who you ask. It's also a good idea to consider your own financial situation, budget and needs or wants before buying a vehicle in the first place.

If you are in the market to buy or lease a vehicle, here's when it may be a good time to visit a dealership:

Man shaking hands with salesperson at car dealership.

Buy at the End of the Month

Most dealerships set goals around selling a certain amount of cars per month. If a dealership hasn't hit their sales quota for the month, the team may have more motivation to make a sale, says Edmunds. This means you may have more room to negotiate on a vehicle by shopping at the end of the month.

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Wait Until the End of the Year

Kelley Blue Book (KBB) reports that many dealerships offer their best sales at the end of the calendar year. The organization says this is because car dealerships prefer to have less inventory of older models going into the new year and need to meet yearly sales goals.

Hold Off Until Next Year's Models Come Out

New model year vehicles are typically released during the fall season of the previous year, says AutoTrader. For example, this means 2021 vehicles will likely arrive at dealerships during the fall of 2020. Many car dealerships try to sell off older model year vehicles before the new fleet arrives, but that doesn't always happen, says AutoTrader. This can be a plus for car buyers because dealerships become motivated to sell off the "old" models, giving buyers the opportunity to negotiate a lower price.

Shop During a Holiday Weekend

Many car dealerships hold holiday sales, says CARFAX, which typically translates into bigger savings when you buy a car over a holiday weekend. KBB adds that dealerships also usually offer higher rebates or special financing during holiday sales events. Some holidays to consider going car shopping include Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day.

Buy at the End of a Car's Life or Design Cycle

Car manufacturers sometimes redesign, or completely discontinue, certain vehicle models, says Edmunds. This may allow car buyers to score bigger savings at the end of the model's design or life cycle. However, keep in mind that if a car is being discontinued, it may depreciate faster, warns Edmunds. It's also a good idea to look into why the manufacturer is ending production of the car.

Buying a new car is a large purchase that should be thought out. Remember that with some patience and research, you may be able to find a deal on a new car when the time is right.

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