“When should I buy a car?” This is a question I have been asked plenty of times over the years.
While my immediate response would always be “when you are ready to buy, that is the best time,” there are a couple of times of the year where you will be able to get a better deal and/or have a better selection depending on what you are looking for. Let’s explore this topic in a bit more detail.
New vehicles – The traditional model year for the American automotive industry starts in October. The factories usually start building the new models during the late summer. As a result, automakers begin to offer “year end deals” on the remaining models – usually from August to November. Consumers that have done their home work, know what they want, and have some flexibility with color, trim and equipment can often score big.
Used vehicles – The best time to consider the purchase or trade-in of a used vehicle is usually in the Spring. A combination of reasons makes March through June a great time for used vehicle shopping. First and foremost, personal tax refunds provide the basis and the motivation for trade-in and trading up. This results in a large selection of used vehicles entering the market. Used car dealers are also stocking up in anticipation of this traffic, coming out of winter when their inventories are lowest. Looking for that perfect first car for your teenager or that graduation present for that high school senior? This is your season. Just remember for the best deals during this time private sale or local dealer, cash is king.
End of the Month – If you are looking to squeeze every last bit of opportunity out of your potential vehicle purchase and you are working with a local dealer, then this is also something you can consider. Dealers and their sales personnel have to meet certain performance and sales targets – some set by the dealer, some set by the manufacturer, and some set by the financial institution that finances the inventory that they have in stock. Most dealers will give it that “extra effort” for that final sale at month end. But be aware, in those cases you need to be prepared to sign on the dotted line by or at the end of the calendar month to benefit.
Did you know – There are several specific opportunities for a better deal when seeking several specific types of vehicles. For example, the best time to buy a convertible is in the late fall. Why? Those dealers who still have them in inventory need to sell them, or be forced to carry the cost of the vehicle through the winter months, since demand has dried up. The dealer would rather sell it to you for LESS than incur the costs of a long winter and questionable prospects in the Spring.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, if you are seeking a truck, specifically tailored to off-roading and/or commercial applications like snowplowing, Spring is best. Going into the winter months, dealers are stocking up on these vehicles and related equipment: supply and demand. In the Spring, they have inventory that they need to switch over, and a person with a sharp eye and ready pocketbook can snag a deal. The time frame would actually be late February to mid March, depending on the weather in your area. If it’s a long winter, then those dates would slide a bit. A short or otherwise warm winter might pull those opportunities forward a bit. As always, it pays to do your homework before locating your next vehicle be it new or used.