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When is the best time to buy a new vehicle?

Are you on the market for a new vehicle? Shop during these peak times for the best deal


There is a science behind buying a vehicle, and if your timing is right, you could save big bucks.

Photo/ via Flickr

This article, originally published on March 10, 2016, has been udpated with current information.

There is much debate over what time is best to purchase a new vehicle. Are the best deals looming around a holiday? Can you get the pricing edge on a rainy day? Is the end of the week a better time? There is a science behind buying a vehicle, and if your timing is right, you could save big bucks.

Think ‘the end’: The end of the year, end of the quarter, end of the month

At the end of a month or quarter, salespeople are all about getting their numbers up – this marks the time dealerships can get more flexible with their prices. Just get it off the lot and give them the commission.

This year, the last day to report sales is Friday, Jan. 3, 2020. This means that January 4 is also the last day to hit quarterly and yearly targets for salespeople, and chatting up the last few prospects of the year will become their goal. It also might mean the dealership is willing to make concessions to speed up negotiations and get their last deals on the books.

Strategy and research pay off

The next year’s models will start to show up at dealerships in September, which makes August the month to clear out old inventory and get the lots ready for the new models. This makes August another good month for auto deals, followed by October, November and December.

Shorter sales months mean less opportunity for salespeople to hit quotas. By exploiting a short sales month, you may catch a salesperson in need of a few more sales. The more urgent the salesperson’s needs, the better deal you’ll get.

Combining strategies for a better deal

Look for dealership rebates and incentives. Edmunds has a detailed list of available incentives. Track the truck of your dreams to see when a dealership decides to put it on the market for a little less.

Don’t play all of your cards up front. Get your lowest price quote, then start adding up the discounts you deserve.

  • Haggle first and show your trade-in vehicle after your lowest quote has been made.
  • Are you a veteran? Wait until the last minute to tell your salesperson. Some car companies offer military discounts, which would be an additional discount to the haggling and trade-in perks you’ve already received.

Try to get financing before you buy. Financing from a credit union or bank will likely be less costly than financing through the dealership. At the very least, the dealership will feel some stiff competition to get you a lower rate.

What is the worst time to buy a car?

Holidays sales are heavily promoted, and dealerships will likely be crowded by the masses of people hoping to score the best and biggest deal of the year.

The more crowded a dealership, the more you have to wait before you speak with a representative. By the time you finally get to speak with someone about a potential car and a test drive, the salesperson may have already completed a deal or two. The more people on the lot looking for a car, the more opportunity a salesperson has to make a deal – and worry less about that quota. In other words, that salesperson doesn’t need you to earn a bonus like he or she would during times without advertised sales.

All the tactics for finding a discount won’t mean anything if you value a vehicle higher than the true price. Find out what others have paid for the same vehicle before entering a dealership. What is its true market value? Where can you begin and end your haggling?

Go into the dealership fully informed. The more you know, the less opportunity the salesperson has to push you around, and the better discount you could score.

The EMS1 Lifestyle content series is written for the off-duty EMT and paramedic. Here you’ll find content on everything from the latest automotive and entertainment trends to tips and tricks for financial planning – all written from a first responder’s perspective, with an eye toward what makes you unique even when you’re not at the station.

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