As with many things in life, getting a great deal on a new car is all about timing. Buy at the right time and you can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a transaction. Strike at the wrong time, and you'll find yourself paying out that much. When is the moment right, exactly? Good question.
Conventional wisdom suggests that buyers find the best offers at the end of the year when dealers start lowering prices to reach their annual revenue goals. There's a lot of truth to that advice. Buying as the year ends is a good idea. But here's the thing: There's no guarantee you'll find a deal on the specific new car model you're looking for.
On top of that, plenty of buyers can't afford to wait another six months. For some, the cost of maintaining an old car is simply too high to keep it around any longer. Others need a new ride to better fit big lifestyle changes – a growing family, for instance. Or maybe some just want to take advantage of cheap auto financing and dealer incentives to get behind the wheel of something shiny.
Whatever the reason for buying a new car, you'll have to understand how dealers operate. Getting to them when they're most eager to close sales is a huge advantage for the smart car buyer. Here's a look at the different times of year when you're most likely to strike gold with a great deal on a new car:
Buying in December
There's a reason experts suggest buyers wait for the end of the year to get attractive deals. It's because dealers, even when sales are solid throughout the first 11 months of the year (as they were in 2015 and look to be again this year), tend to wait until December before pushing to meet sales goals. In short, dealers can be procrastinators.
Buyers are the beneficiaries of this waiting until the last minute, though it should be said that buying a new car in December is a tall order for consumers, many of whom have just spent a lot of money during the holidays. If you have the funds set aside, however, you'll find dealers anxious to negotiate, giving you a shot at obtaining the best possible price on car models left at the end of the year.
Buying at the end of summer
Summer may be just beginning, but it's never too early to plan ahead for a car purchase, especially when the end of summer is such a prime time for buying a new car. According to TrueCar, August has the lowest average transaction price of the year. This late summer/early fall period is when new model year cars, trucks, and SUVs begin to roll into dealerships.
Neither the automaker nor the dealer wants to get stuck with a bunch of leftover cars. End of summer buyers willing to purchase new cars from the previous model year have a good chance of getting a great deal. If you wait for August, you'll find enough rebates and incentives to put a big smile on your face. Not only that, but because you're helping the dealer clear out inventory, you're even more likely to secure a discounted sticker price on your new car.
Buying at the end of the day
Like most every other professional, car salespeople are ready to head home at the end of the day. So are the finance and insurance people who have a say in any transaction. Take advantage of that by showing up at the dealership about an hour before closing. If you're serious about buying, a smart salesperson won't let you walk away just because the lights are set to turn off soon.
As the day comes to a close, new car shoppers are often able to negotiate favorable deals. Because everyone wants to wrap your transaction up quickly, dealers are more likely to make concessions to speed up negotiation. So long as you're committed and ready to make a fair offer (being well-rested and determined doesn't hurt either), you won't encounter much resistance.