When is the best time to buy a new car? Getting a straight answer can be trickier than you think. The market for cars is—like the market for every other commodity—not an exact science. Knowing when to buy depends on who you ask. Here’s a breakdown from experts in the field:
Buy Now or Buy Later?
While the conventional wisdom still says that the end of the month, end of the quarter, end of the year remain the best times to buy a new car, some experts point to August as the prime time.
According to TrueCar, Inc. in a recent ABC News article, August might be a better time to buy a new car than previously believed. TrueCar says the average price for a new car sold in August is $1,850 lower than December–the one month that combines the potential benefits of end of month, quarter and year.
But of course, not everyone agrees. AutoTrader, for example, still believes the best time to buy a new car is the end of the year because that’s when dealers are “most anxious to negotiate.” The also site suggests that it’s a good time to visit the dealership anytime demand is likely to be low–inclement weather, etc.
Buy at the End of the Year
USA Today is one of the many people and organization that suggests you buy a car at the end of the year. The reasons for this include annual quotas and bonuses for salespeople who meet certain annual figure which can translate into lower prices or more advantageous negotiating during the last couple weeks of December.
Also, dealers tend to have an incentive to sell last year’s models to make room for the new models, according to USA Today, so if you can do without the design tweaks of the newest model, you can likely find a great deal on “new” car that’s only a few months old.
Buy at the End of the Month
“There’s some truth to the idea that new-car dealers may make better deals at the end of the month,” says Phil Reed, senior consumer advice editor of Edmunds.com. “But people shouldn’t think that a little tip like that alone will get them a great deal.” Most car dealerships operate on a quota system, where they receive an incremental bonus for hitting their monthly numbers. If a dealer is coming up short at the end of the month, he may be more motivated to knock down the price of a car.
So let’s review: With all the difference of opinion, the best advice may be to buy a new car only when you really need it—and only after you’ve done your homework. Stay on top of the market, look for big money incentives on manufacturers’ websites and consider less popular vehicles at bargain prices. If you have the flexibility, consider shopping for your new car at the end of the month, quarter or year, and at times when demand may be low, like during a rain or snow storm.
The more you know, the sooner you’ll be able to enjoy that new car smell as you drive your newly purchased car off the lot.