We all know that buying a car takes time to find the right vehicle and money to seal the deal. But it’s not just your time and money that matters. Keeping a shrewd eye on times of the business year and your dealer’s financial goals too can put a lot of money back in your pocket, right where it belongs.
You might be ready to buy your new car right now, but when is the best time to buy? To save the most money, you might want to time your purchase to take advantage of the best discounts. Interestingly, even waiting for the beginning of the week can potentially give you a better deal.
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Year-end sales can save you a bunch of money on extras, as well as the actual cost of the car — it’s common to see interest-free deals too. You can also find some of the best sales between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve as dealers are trying to meet their sales quota.
Depending on the dealership, salespeople need to reach a target goal at the end each month or quarter. Negotiating a better price can be easier as salespeople want you to sign on the dotted line to help them meet their sales targets. Sometimes, dealerships offer salespeople bonuses if they meet certain targets by the end of the month or quarter, so you might be able to score a better deal if you shop during those times.
When new cars are released, buyers often run out to get the latest and greatest. After this initial sales rush is over, upgraded models start arriving and can cost the same price as the original model. Because of this, you can negotiate a lower price for the original model.
Saturdays and Sundays are salespeople’s busiest days, not making it an ideal environment for negotiating. Mondays and Tuesdays tend to be slower, allowing you more time to play hardball and see how low you can get the price.
If you know the exact car you want and go shortly before the end of the business day to buy it, you may be in a stronger negotiating position. Salespeople have worked a long shift and are likely looking forward to getting off work. They may be more eager to work with you to close the deal quickly. However, don’t expect this strategy to work if you don’t know exactly what you want. Being indecisive will undermine the salesperson’s perception that he or she can close the deal quickly and go home.
It’s the end of the calendar year and on top of offering blowout sales, dealerships may be trying to meet an annual sales target. This means salespeople are more willing to negotiate with you to get the vehicle off the lot.
Many dealerships cut prices and offer low interest deals to kick-off summer. If you can wait until Memorial weekend, you’ll be sure to find a competitive deal on a number of different makes and models. It’s also a good time to purchase a mid-sized SUV because May falls in between the periods when these models are most popular — winter and the beginning of the school year.
During November, most dealerships are getting ready for next year’s models and need to free up space on the lot. To do this, dealers will cut prices — making a smaller profit — in order to bulk up on brand new inventory.
It’s close enough to the end of the year for dealers to start making their big sales push and it’s the beginning of the holiday season — expect sales and incentives to buy. With many people looking for bigger vehicles to get them through winter, you’ll find the best deals on midsize and compact models.
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What kinds of discounts can I expect?
Once you know the right time to buy, it’s important to know what sort of discounts and deals you can expect.
Cash-back rebates. Cash back typically applies to the purchase price of the specific car you’re looking to buy, and not all models offer the same deal. You’ll have to research rebates separately, but it’s a good way to lower the overall cost of your next car.
Financing incentives. If you have excellent credit, you may qualify for interest rates between 0% to 5%. These rates are often advertised to get people through the door, so unless you know you have the credit, don’t expect to receive this good of a deal.
Special buyer discounts. Are you a student or a recent college grad? A member of the Canadian military or RCMP? Is this your first time buying a car? Have you recently bought or leased another vehicle from the same manufacturer? There’s a strong chance you’ll be able to get a discount from the dealer or manufacturer.
Leasing programs. Many manufacturers encourage buyers to lease by advertising low monthly payments. These can be beneficial for people who want to have the newest car with the latest perks and safety features every few years, and if you catch a dealer at the right time, you may be able to negotiate the price down even lower.
Keep in mind that many of the special discounts listed here are for new car buyers. This shouldn’t stop you from shopping for a used car and negotiating a good deal, but most rebates and low financing will only be given to buyers looking to purchase new.
Consider a Certified Pre-owned Vehicle. Want a new car? Certified Pre-Owned programs allow you to buy a used car that has been thoroughly checked over and polished by manufacturer-trained mechanics to make sure the vehicle is both high quality and reliable. Certain manufacturers also have warranty options specifically for Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles that come into effect as soon as the new car warranty has expired.
Trade in your car. If you already have a car, trading in your old vehicle can knock hundreds or thousands of dollars off your new car price. Be sure to take care of your vehicle and clean it up before taking it into the dealership for a valuation so that you can get the best possible price.
Consider a mid-level or basic model. While high-end models might come with more features, consider whether you’re willing to pay for upgrades that aren’t essential for your driving experience or won’t affect it that much.
Shop around. Comparing cars from different types of sellers and financing options from different types of lenders can help you save on the total cost of your car. If you choose to get pre-approved for a car loan, you’ll know what kinds of rates and terms you’re eligible for and can potentially used a good offer from one dealer or lender to negotiate a better offer from another.
Buying a car can seem overwhelming, from researching brands and models, to finding a trustworthy dealership, to securing competitive financing. Now, however, you know when you can most likely get the best deals. Be sure to compare all of your options and read the terms and conditions of your finance deal before pulling off your new ride.
Want to know more about buying a car including where to go, what to look for and how to pay for your vehicle? Read our guide to buying a car, which is jam-packed full of tips and information to make you a confident, knowledgeable buyer.
Frequently asked questions
This depends somewhat on the person making the sale. At the end of the night, the salesperson may be looking to get home as soon as possible or they may be willing to negotiate with you for as long as it takes to make the sale. If you don’t know exactly what vehicle you want, however, your salesperson won’t be as likely to see the deal coming to a close soon so they can go home. It’s therefore important to do your research in advance if you want to use this strategy to score extra savings.
Don’t count on it. While it sounds logical to theorize that buying a car on a rainy day can get you a cheaper price because dealerships are slower, this isn’t necessarily the case. Dealerships may be slower, in which case, you’re in luck. But if enough people who believe this theory show up on a rainy day to buy a car, it might not be so slow after all!
Some believe, though, that those who show up to a dealership on a rainy day are more serious buyers, rather than people who show up when the weather is nice and might only end up casually browsing. In this case, both buyer and seller will have their haggling hats on.
At the end of the day, there is no perfect rule about when to buy. Dealership conditions can vary as can buyers’ attitudes and budgets.
The only way to know if the deal you’re getting is competitive is by doing market research and comparing the prices of similar vehicles at other dealerships to what you’ve been offered. Look at resources like AutoTrader.ca (for new and used vehicles), the Canadian Black Book (for used vehicles), AutoCheck.com (for used vehicles from American sellers) to find the values of models you’re interested in buying.
Prices can vary by region, so check your local classifieds to see what vehicles are generally going for where you live. Comparing this with prices your see advertised online can give you a good idea of whether your local market is competitive or whether you should head out-of-town to land a better deal.
Stacie Hurst is an associate editor at Finder. She earned a degree in psychology and writing but studied a number of other subjects in university including business and political science. Stacie loves giving people the tools they need to make knowledgeable and successful decisions. Her personal interests include writing, personal finance, web technology, photography and anything creative!
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