When is the best time to buy a car?

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Once you’ve decided on your perfect car, don’t forget to think about the perfect time to buy it. The cost of a car can fluctuate according to the month or even the day. If you have the luxury of waiting for the ideal time to buy a car, you may be able to save thousands of dollars.

Here’s a list of tips on the best time to buy a car:

Shop early in the week, not on the weekends

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are usually the best days of the week to shop for a car, since less customer traffic means a better chance of getting a deal. Dealerships tend to be crowded throughout the weekends. Stopping in on a Saturday or a Sunday could result in less personal attention from salespeople — which could make negotiating a deal more difficult.

Mondays especially tend to be the slowest days of the week for dealerships. A salesperson’s need to make the most of limited opportunities on a Monday could put you in position to negotiate more favorable terms.

Shop late in the year and late in the month

The months of October, November, and December are the best time of year to buy a car. Car dealerships have sales quotas, which typically break down into yearly, quarterly and monthly sales goals. And all three goals begin to come together late in the year.

If you begin shopping late in the year, your salesperson might have one or more of those quotas in mind and possibly offer you a better deal.

One word of caution: Sales deadlines don’t always sync up with the calendar month. In fact, sometimes they can come a few days earlier. So walking into a dealership on the last day of the calendar month might have the opposite effect and make finding a favorable deal less likely. To avoid this, try shopping for a car on the 26th, 27th, or 28th day of the month (or a few days earlier in February).

Use holiday sales to your advantage

We’ve all seen the holiday-themed commercials with car dealers urging you to shop and save on this special occasion. But it’s not always just salesmanship. A holiday sale can offer deep discounts when compared to car prices throughout the rest of the year.

Under the right conditions, any one of the following holidays could be the best time of year to buy a car:

  • Memorial Day: Summer is typically among the most expensive times of year to buy a car, but dealers do tend to cut prices back around the Memorial Day holiday. Next year’s models tend to trickle out around midyear, reducing the price of cars already on the lot.
  • Black Friday: Car dealerships take part in the Black Friday sales craze just like the rest of retail. Shopping for a car on Black Friday may help you find lower prices, but fair warning: It’s one of the busiest retail days of the year, so expect big crowds of fellow bargain-hunters.
  • New Year’s Eve: If you can swing it, New Year’s Eve may be one of the best days of the year to shop for a car. Salespeople could be facing monthly, quarterly and/or yearly quotas on New Year’s Eve, and if they meet their sales goals they could earn a hefty bonus. This could make finding a favorable deal easier.

Shop for this year’s models when next year’s models arrive

If you can wait a bit longer for the best time to buy a car, consider holding out until your dream car is on closeout. Dealerships have limited space, and when they get in their newer models, they need to sell off older stock. If you can hold out, you can find a new(er) model car at a very favorable discount.

Be aware of your timing: Many shoppers are looking to use the exact same strategy. Manufacturers begin to release new models in the summer. If you wait until winter to make your move, you may be out of luck.

Time is your best negotiating technique

Waiting for the best time to buy a car requires patience. But if you have the ability to wait, time can be your ally. Cars almost always depreciate. Waiting for the right time of year to buy a car, or the right month, or the right day, can help you save thousands. The only thing sweeter than a new car is knowing you paid less to drive it.

Make sure you get the best auto loan rate when you buy a car. Compare auto loans on Bankrate. Or if you’re just starting to shop, check out 10 more tips for buying the right new or used car.