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When Is The Right Time To Get A New Car?

Car shopping. Some love it. Some hate it. Some feel that the lure of the ‘new car smell’ is nothing short of a magic potion that promises adventure, luxury, and the lure of the open road.

Drivers have many reasons for buying a new or used car, and the process can be involved and time-consuming. Because cars generally come with a hefty price tag, shoppers often conduct research on makes and models, check out multiple dealerships, and review their budgets before finalizing a purchase.

Before the car buying process even begins, shoppers often find themselves asking “When is the best time to buy a car?” Here are some tips that can help you decide when to go car shopping so that you can snag a deal that best meets your needs and your budget.

Photo: Shutterstock/Opat Suvi

Weekday vs. Weekend Shopping

In general, weekdays are better for buying cars than free-from-work weekends that allow for more buyers to do some leisurely browsing. Less foot traffic during the week could mean that salespeople are more inclined to work with you to finalize a sale. Some shoppers prefer to wait until just before the dealership closes at the end of the day to try and secure a last-ditch deal. This tactic works best if you’re truly ready to buy and not just looking over the car inventory; a dealer will gladly stay past closing hour to make a sale, but only if they’re reasonably sure you’re a buyer, not a browser.

End-Of-The-Month Car Shopping

End-of-the-month car shopping has long been touted as the best time to get the best deals. Why? Because dealerships and salespeople receive bonuses from the automakers for meeting sales quotas by the end of the month, which could translate into shoppers being able to negotiate a lower car price and cinch a deal. A caveat to consider:  You’ll have no way of knowing whether a salesperson has already met their monthly quota, so you can’t be certain they’ll be open to knocking hundreds (or thousands) off the car price.

Focus On The Model Year Instead Of The Calendar Year

The beginning of a new calendar year isn’t necessarily a big event for automakers; they don’t operate on the same 12-month calendar that most of us do. For example, an automaker might turn over a particular model in its car lineup in March or June or November, which means your 2018 Toyota Camry may have been sold to you in the fall of 2017.

One of the best times to shop for a car is when the dealership is feeling pressured to make room for a new model year, especially when the car is slated for a redesign. In other words, you could score a great deal if you purchase the previous-generation model right before the new generation model arrives on the lot.


By going with the previous-generation model, you’ll most likely be forgoing some of the latest and greatest features of the new model. But on the plus side, the last model of a vehicle generation typically experiences the fewest mechanical and electronic gremlins, while first generation vehicles tend to experience the most.

Don’t Miss Out On The Big Sale Days

Big sales on cars can be had around major holidays such as Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Labor Day, and Columbus Day. Keep in mind, however, that the incentives offered during these sale days are most likely not restricted to those specific days. You can negotiate a purchase price on the dates leading up to the special sales days and enjoy the same discounts advertised (again and again) on these holidays.