People always ask me, “When is the best time to buy a car?  Should I wait until the end of the month?  The end of the summer?  The end of the year?”  The truth is that there are many good times to buy a new (or new-to-you) car.  There are also some BAD times to go car shopping.  Let’s see if we can separate truth from myth.

Some people think that rainy days will deter car shoppers from trudging through lots, and make dealers more desperate to make a sale.  On the other hand, if you are slopping around in the rain, the salesman may think that you are desperate for a car and push for a higher price!  Many highline dealers (BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, etc.) insist that rainy days are great sales days because their customers would rather spend the warm, sunny ones on the golf course instead of in their showroom.  At any rate, I wouldn’t recommend making a major financial decision based solely on the weather report.

Weekdays are typically better for car shopping, since most people peruse the lots on the weekends.  Car dealers refer to weekends as the “tuna run” — there are so many customers on the lot, they just pull them into the net.  It’s harder to demand a low price when the salesman can simply turn to the next customer in line.  You stand a better chance during the week, when there are fewer fish in the sea.  You will also spend less time at the dealership.

Hard-core negotiators like to wait until the end of the month or quarter when dealers are trying to make their quotas.  The number of cars a dealer sells each month determines the number of cars he can get from the manufacturer next month.  It also affects the types of cars he gets (models and colors that are selling well vs. ones that are not) as well as marketing support dollars.  If a dealer is falling short of a quota for the month, he may forgo a profit on the car just to make his numbers.  Just be prepared to spend a long, hard day at the dealership negotiating up the management food chain.

The end of the model year (usually August or October) and the end of the calendar year can be  good times to buy cars.  Dealers need to clear out the previous model year vehicles in order to take delivery of the new ones from the manufacturer.  Many customers would rather have the newest model year, especially if there has been a re-design, so dealers must make the older vehicles more attractive by reducing the price.  The manufacturers will usually offer incentives in the form of customer rebates, cash discounts and low finance rates to help dealers move the old inventory.  But, don’t think this is the only time to find great incentives.  Manufacturers will offer them any time during the year when they feel the need to increase sales.

Unfortunately, waiting until the end of the month or the end of the year can backfire on you.  If the car you want has been a popular model throughout the year, there may not be any left in stock!  If you have very specific color and feature requirements, then you may want to go ahead and get one while you can.  Otherwise, you may find yourself waiting for several weeks or even months until the new model becomes available.

The bottom line is that the price of any given vehicle depends on supply and demand.   If the dealer needs to move a car, you can get a better deal.  If a car is hot in the market and flying off the lots, be prepared to pay accordingly.

Sound like WAY too much of a hassle?  No worries!  Just contact The Car Chick!  Our strong relationships with the car dealers combined with our knowledge of the buying process ensure that you will get a great deal at any time of the month or year.