If you’re in the market for a used car, you may be asking yourself when is the best time to buy a used car. First and foremost, it’s always an excellent rule of thumb to be on the lookout before you think you need one. If you suspect that you may need one in the next year, it’s wise to start researching as soon as possible. Additionally, you’ll want to keep in mind that the best time to buy a used car doesn’t necessarily coincidence with the best time to buy a new one. So let’s dig in.
Holiday weekends are an excellent time to car shop. iSeeCars.com did a study in 2016 that found that Veteran’s Day, Black Friday, and Christmas Eve were some of the best holidays to stop into dealerships. These holidays are when the deals are abundant. On the other hand, you’ll want to avoid more family-oriented holidays, such as Mother’s and Father’s Day and Easter. These family-focused days will have quite the opposite effect. Staff will be sparse and fewer sellers will equal higher prices.
Additionally, according to US News, “because holiday weekends are popular times of the year to buy new cars, with generous incentives and big sales on car lots, there are loads of vehicles coming back to the dealers as trade-ins or lease returns. Private party sellers will also be trying to get rid of their old cars so they can take advantage of the deals.” In the days following a huge sale, lots will be packed and sellers will want these cars off their hands.
Sales quotas need to be hit every month for dealerships and car salesmen. In other words, you may bump up against a desperate seller at the end of each month who’s just trying to get that bonus. This can mean a greater discount or better deal on your loan during this time. Also, if you don’t want to buy on the same day, go ahead and test drive some cars earlier in the month and then come back once the end of the month rolls around.
According to Edmunds data, October, November, and December seem to be the best months to buy used. Out of these three months, December takes the cake if you’re looking for the ultimate deals. The logic behind this is that dealerships want to close the year out with a bang. Basically, they’ll be extra motivated to sell. This may not be the case at every dealership, however, so you may need to hop around. On the flip side, January, February, March, and April are often the least discounted months.
Do you know that scratch or dent on your car that only appears when the sun’s shining? This is something to keep in mind when you’re about to go buy. On rainy or cloudy days, you may not be able to pick up on blemishes as well considering they may be harder to pick out. A full inspection should be done before you drive off the lot so you know what you’re getting into. You may even be able to decrease the price if you can see these flaws. US News even explains that “nice days also bring out more private-party sellers, who may take more time to clean and polish the vehicles before putting them up for sale.”
Finally, weekdays are going to be a quiet time at many dealerships (especially Mondays and Tuesdays). This will mean that many sellers will be able to give you their undivided attention and answer any questions you may have.
Buying a new car, whether new or used, can feel like an overwhelming process. However, it doesn’t have to be the case. If you keep these tips in mind, you should have a smoother process throughout your car buying journey. So whether it’s heading over to your dealership on a bright and sunny Monday, going at the end of December, or stopping in on a non-family-related holiday, you may find yourself saving exponentially.