The 3 best times to buy a car


Robyn Parets

Robyn Parets

Blog author Robyn Parets

Robyn Parets is a personal finance and business writer based in Boston. A former writer for Investor's Business Daily (IBD) and NerdWallet, Robyn is also the founder and owner of Pretzel Kids, a children's fitness brand and online training course. You can find her on Twitter @RobynParets.

Published January 18, 2016 | 3 min read

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You’ve wanted to buy a new car for months but you keep putting it off. Why? You’ve heard that if you hit the car dealership at the right time, you can save hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars off the sticker price of that new car. The problem: You’re not sure when that magic "right time" is.There’s a good reason for the confusion as there isn’t just one "best time" to buy a new car. In fact, there there are generally a few times of year when you might be able to save the most money. One of them is fast approaching. The end of a any month is generally one of those coveted times when you can save serious bucks on a new car purchase.Read on to take a look at the three times of year you can drive a hard bargain and drive away from the dealership in your new car.

The 3 best times to buy a car

Year-endMany of you have heard that car dealerships often offer discounts at the end of the year. This is true as most dealerships have to meet annual sales goals for each calendar year. Not only that, salespeople and managers at car dealerships work on commission, sometimes earning a percentage of the sale or a particular rate per vehicle. This means they too need to meet certain goals.Generally speaking, dealerships are eager to close sales in December in order to hit or exceed quotas for the entire year. For these reasons, buying a new car at the end of the year is a smart move.Keep in mind, however, that not all dealerships offer savings on all models. Also, you might have to make concessions on the color and features of the car you want to buy as dealers may only be willing to negotiate on certain vehicles.Lastly, if the make and model of your dream car is selling like hotcakes, there may be no deals at all. So be sure to call around and do your research before heading out to buy a car during the already busy holiday season.

Late summer/early fallThe end of August into September is generally when car manufacturers roll out the next year’s models.This means that if you go car shopping, for example, in September 2016, you may see 2016 and 2017 cars on the lot. Dealers are already pushing the latest and greatest new models, which means you may have an opportunity to wheel and deal on a 2016 car. If you’re lucky, the dealership may even have some remaining 2015 inventory. If that’s the case, you can generally strike a good deal here as salespeople want to move these cars to make room for newer models.Again, do your research and find out if the dealership still has prior year models on the lot. If you opt to shop and buy without doing your due diligence, you might be looking at paying sticker price for a brand new model.End of any month.Sometimes you can’t time your purchase for December or September. If this is the case, perhaps you can manage to buy a car at the end of the month. Similarly to hitting year-end sales quotas, dealerships also have monthly numbers to meet. Plus, salespeople stand to benefit from month-end bonuses if they reach certain sales goals, which can put you in the driver’s seat when it comes to getting a better deal. In a nutshell: You may be able to negotiate a lower price on the 30th day of the month than on the 1st.

Regardless of when you set out to buy a new car, timing is key to saving money. Another tip: Before sealing any deal, make sure you ask the salesperson to throw in as many extra options as possible, like floor mats and free car washes. Every little bit adds up.Photo: Chris Devers