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How to get a good deal on a car in the summer

Be on the lookout for cashback rebates and 0% financing offers.

Summer is one of the best times of the year to buy a car — new or used. With a combination of holiday and end-of-season sales, you can often find discounts on the sticker price and financing. But it might not always be the best time to trade in, especially if you’re looking to buy a larger vehicle.

5 tips for buying a car in the summer

Follow these tips to get the best deal on a new car between May and September:

1. Take advantage of holiday sales

Holidays are some of the best times to buy a car, and summer has three big ones:

  • Memorial Day
  • Fourth of July
  • Labor Day

Dealerships usually have discounts on both the car pricing and financing. This can mean more cashback rebates and more 0% APR financing offers available.

2. Wait until the end of the summer to buy a new car

Dealerships start debuting the year’s new models in the fall, meaning that the end of the summer is a particularly good time for sales. This also means you’ll have the upper hand when negotiating, since dealers are trying to push older models off the lot to make room for new inventory.

3. Consider a used car

Summer is also the end of the leasing season, which means dealerships are often flooded with off-lease used cars in July and August. These are usually heavily discounted, since the dealership still needs to make room for newer models coming in the fall months.

You might also be able to snag a deal on a low-mileage demo vehicle or executive car, which are used by dealership employees. Dealerships will often put these on the market at the end of the summer, since they’ll be upgrading to newer models come the fall. Aside from getting a competitive price for only a slightly used vehicle, these cars also typically come with a new-car warranty.

4. Calculate if that trade-in is worth it first

SUVs and pickups tend to have a higher trade-in value, but also come with a higher sticker price. Sedans and compact cars usually have a lower trade-in value and lower price. If you’re thinking of transitioning between vehicles, now might be a good time to downsize — and not the best time to go big.

Sites like Edmunds or Kelley Blue Book can help you figure out how much your car should be worth before deciding to take it in to the dealership.

5. Pay attention to the car market

Not all cars are created equal. Some makes or models might be more discounted, while others might be in higher demand.

Keep tabs on trends in car sales by regularly checking in on sites like Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book. If you’re really looking for a deal, use this to help you decide which vehicle to buy.

Why buy a car in the summer?

There are a few reasons hitting the dealership in the summer months might be a good idea:

  • Cheaper used cars. With a high rate of leases ending and trade-ins, you have a better selection to pick from and more deals than you’d find at other times of the year.
  • More negotiating leverage. Dealerships want to get cars off the lot now more than any other time of the year, giving you the upper hand when discussing the price and financing.
  • Deals on demo vehicles. These slightly used cars typically only have a few hundred to a few thousand miles on them and usually come with a new-car warranty.

Why wait?

If you’re not on a time crunch, there are a few reasons why you might want to hold off until the fall or winter:

  • New models come out in the fall. If having the latest car is more important to you than extra savings, consider waiting until the newer models debut in the fall.
  • Better sales later in the year. It’s possible to find even better deals during the holiday season.
  • Less deals on some types of cars. SUVs and pickups might not have as many deals as other cars, like sedans and compacts. But you can often get a better trade-in value.

What’s the best time of year to buy a car?

Many car sales are based around the holidays. You can often find the best deals during the months leading up to Christmas and New Year’s — October, November and December — with Black Friday kicking off the best deals of the year.

But many experts say that the best time to get a new car is when you need a new car. There are plenty of opportunities to get a competitive deal year-round. Sometimes even the day of the week you pick can make a difference in how much you pay. Check out our article on the best time to buy a car for more tips.

How should I pay for my new car?

You still have the same financing options as any other time of year: dealership financing, auto loans and leasing. Since summertime is a great time to take advantage of dealership discounts, you might want to seriously consider dealership financing or leasing. You may be able to score 0% APR financing if you have excellent credit.

To give yourself even more leverage, consider getting preapproved for an auto loan from a bank, credit union or online lender first — even if you’d prefer dealership financing. Your salesperson will likely try to at least match that offer, if not beat it.

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Bottom line

Summer can be a good time to trade in your car or just buy a new or used vehicle. But it might not always have the best deals, especially if you’re looking to trade in a sedan for something more substantial. You can find more tips with our car-buying guide.

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