When is the Best Time to Buy a Car?


Those looking for a new or used car might find that the prices at dealerships are higher than they anticipated. In addition, interest rates could start to be higher, too, now that the Fed has once again bumped rates.

Finding the best prices for a new car could require a bit of research, but timing the purchase also might impact the deal. When is the best time to buy a car? While a deal is never guaranteed especially in times of low demand and high supply, buying on these days, times of year and holiday weekends could be a buyer’s best option:

  • Mondays
  • Three-day weekends (Memorial Day, Labor Day, etc.)
  • The end of a sales quarter
  • New Year’s Eve

The Best Time of Year to Buy a Car

The average price of a new car is now more than $48K. While not every car will set a buyer back this much money, finding a deal on a new car could be a bit more difficult. The chip shortage might have crunched supply for some models, and an increased buyer demand could have crimped the market, too.

Some cars are selling more than the sticker price. How does a budget buyer find a deal?

Shopping at specific times of the year could lead to better prices or maybe some perks with the purchase. Typically, the best time of the year to buy a car is at the end of the year, the end of a sales quarter and, more specifically, on New Year’s Eve.

Many sales teams try to meet specific goals or sales quotas during a quarter. In the beginning of a sales quarter, sales members might not be incredibly motivated to finalize a deal. After all, time is on their side.

However, those who want to meet goals or earn bonuses associated with these goals might be more willing to negotiate as the end of a quarter draws near. While this doesn’t mean that buyers will be able to name their price, they might be able to bargain for a better price.

For some popular models that are in demand, the leverage could be with the sales team. If supplies are limited and the vehicle is popular, the sales team might know that the car will move for a better price; they might not be motivated to negotiate.

New Year’s Eve marks the very last day of the year. Those who need to meet year-end goals might be open to negotiations. In addition, Kelley Blue Book highlighted a story that a buyer was able to get a great deal on a lease by simply waiting to negotiate at the end of the day on New Year’s Eve; the sales person wanted to leave to go to a party.

While some buyers might not want to spend their New Year’s Eve walking around a car lot or visiting a dealership, this could be the best time to purchase a car for those hoping for a deal.

Best Time to Buy a Car

Skip the Busy Weekend and Shop on Monday

Weekends mean two days free from work and time to spare. Some consumers might use the weekends as an opportunity to shop for major purchases like a new car. The free time means that buyers have more time to check out their options and focus on the purchase.

Unfortunately, many buyers might wait for the weekend to shop for a new car. Weekends at dealerships could be crowded and the sales team might be working with multiple customers at once. Shopping on weekends might not be the best time to expect more one-on-one time from the sales team, and buyers could feel more rushed in trying to make a decision.

The best day of the week to shop for a new car is Monday. The dealership won’t be crowded with customers, and sales team members could have more time to work with buyers. In addition, an expert interviewed by Bankrate explained that buyers also might score some perks.

There might be one exception to buying or shopping on a Monday: three-day weekends like Memorial Day or Labor Day. Monday’s designated as a holiday could be busy as they are often just an extension of the weekend.

Three-Day Holidays Could Mean Savings

A holiday Monday like Memorial Day or Labor Day might be crowded, but those crowds could be gathered for a reason: savings. During long weekends or holidays like Fourth of July, dealerships could offer special promotions or deals.

Since the market is a bit more competitive as demand is higher, these deals might be limited or buyers might need to do their research. Some dealerships could offer lease deals or maybe special interest rates.

For those who are in need of a new car, search out the deals at local dealerships. If buyers are on a budget, they might focus on vehicles that offer special savings, lease deals or other incentives. Even if dealerships aren’t offering sales, maybe they are providing other perks during holiday sales.

When Can Buyers Find Deals on Newer Models?

Car buyers who are shopping for the newest models might wonder if shopping on specific days or times could help them save on these sought-after models. Since new models might already be in demand, dealerships probably won’t be motivated to give buyers a deal.

Some in-demand models might be difficult to procure for a buyer, and dealerships might have no problem moving them off the lot. Dealerships’ might even be up-front with buyers that they need to make a decision; some vehicles are so popular that there could be a wait list or other customers at the dealership who are interested in that same vehicle.

Shopping on a certain day never guarantees a buyer a deal. While it can help, some vehicles are simply so popular that dealerships don’t have an issue moving them.

In fact, new and highly anticipated models might be available for pre-order or to reserve. For example, manufacturers might enable buyers to reserve or order a new electric model online. Chevrolet is accepting reservations for its electric Silverado.

Best Time to Buy a Car

Other Ways to Save When Buying a Car

Some days or times of the year are better than others for buying a car. Buyers who are looking to save money, though, also could concentrate on other aspects of the process to help keep costs affordable.

Before shopping for a vehicle, consumers could request a copy of their credit report to understand their credit worthiness or risk. Consumers can receive a free credit report every 12 months although these free reports don’t include scores. However, consumers could use other resources like CreditKarma to understand their score for free. 

Buyers can input the credit score into car payment calculators to better understand the interest rates that they might receive. However, calculators and other tools and resources are only for informational purposes; they don’t guarantee that the buyer will receive a specific interest rate.

If buyers notice that their score is lower, they might prepare for higher rates. If they could wait to buy a new car, they also could work on repairing their credit score.

Buyers also could shop around to find their best interest rates. While some buyers might prefer to obtain financing at the dealership, buyers also could get approved for financing at their bank or a credit union.

Down payment amounts also could help lower the cost of a vehicle. In addition, down payments also can help offset the impact of depreciation. Buyers can look at their budget to better understand how much money they could allocate towards a down payment; experts recommend a 20 percent down payment for a new car.

Best Time to Buy a Car

Buy Now or Wait

With new car prices nudging higher, buyers might wonder if they should wait to buy a car. While prices could drop, buyers could still face higher interest rates. However, not all buyers can wait to buy a new car; some individuals need the car immediately.

Others might not worry about the price of the vehicle or about higher interest rates. They might make their purchase and then refinance when interest rates are lower.

While the average purchase price is more than $48K, there are still many models that are below this price. Some models could still be less than $20K. However, buyers might have to research which dealerships are offering the best prices and to find cars that best fit within the budget.

In addition, buyers also could use car payment calculators to better understand the price of the car that fits comfortably into their finances; Nerdwallet offers a reverse car payment calculator that lets buyers input the monthly payment they can afford and translates that payment into the total car price.

For buyers who want to score the best prices, visiting a dealership on a Monday or even waiting until the end of the sales quarter or end of the year to purchase a new car might lead to easier negotiations. Yet, since the auto industry has been impacted by high demand and lower supply, scoring a deal might not always be possible.

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