From Sticker Shock to Savvy Car Shopper


couple-picking-up-new-carNothing is worse than buying a new car, only to find the same dealership offering a better deal just a week or two later. Timing your purchase right can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a new or used car. Conventional wisdom says that the best time to buy is the end of the year, but smart shoppers can get good deals all year long.

The More You Know

It is important to understand a little bit about how dealers operate and how the sales process works before going shopping. Nearly all new-car sales representatives work on commission. Their commission may be a percentage of the sale price or a flat rate per vehicle. Every person involved in the sale of a vehicle from the salesman to the finance manager is given goals and incentives to meet each month or each quarter. This is why end-of-year sales are so effective. However, it’s not necessary to wait until December to find a salesman working to meet a monthly or quarterly goal.

5 p.m. on the 31st

Bright and early on the first day of the month is potentially the worst time to buy a car. Instead, the end of the day, at the end of the month, at the end of the quarter puts the odds of getting a deal in your favor.

Days End

Everyone is ready to go home at the end of the day, and car salesmen are no different. If you’re serious about buying a car, hit the dealership just an hour or two before closing.

Month’s End

Dealers usually operate on a monthly cycle and use that time interval to measure sales. Hitting the dealership at the end of the month may be beneficial if you find a sales representative just shy of meeting their monthly goals.

December Deals

Annual sales goals and bonuses are often bigger than monthly or quarterly bonuses, so salesman are eager to close out December on a high note. If they are close to triggering a monthly bonus, they might knock of $1000, or $1500 off the sales price, but if they are close to a more substantial year-end bonus, they may be more willing to knock off close to $3000 or more in order to close the sale.

Rainy Tuesdays

While new cars look pretty and shiny on a sunny day, the dealership is much less crowded when it’s raining outside. People aren’t as anxious to walk around a car lot in a poncho, but if you’re willing to brave the elements, you’ll get a salesperson who is more focused and willing to work with you since they might not have any other options. Weekdays are better for the same reason, everyone is out on Saturdays, but a Tuesday afternoon might leave you being the only potential buyer on the lot, which puts you in an advantageous position.

Fall Means Falling Prices

Next year’s models begin arriving in September and October, and that means dealerships want to clear their lots to make way for the latest and greatest vehicles. If you want next years model, you’ll want to wait until next summer, but if you’re willing to take last year’s model, the fall will reap the best rewards.

The Worst of Times

Most sources agree that Spring is the worst time to buy a car. Cars take a beating over the winter, and with tax refund checks in hand, car dealerships typically sell the most cars in the spring, giving them less incentive to make a deal.

The Best of Times

September 30th at 5 p.m. on a rainy Tuesday may provide ideal conditions to buy a car, but the ability to snag a good deal is still in your hands. Do your homework, understand what the car is worth and set a budget of what you will and will not spend. Be prepare to walk away if the salesman you’re dealing with isn’t willing to work with you.

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