Spring is the time of year to make a big purchase. Nobody is buying houses or cars in the winter, unless dictated by necessity. If you’re lucky, the weather is warmer where you are, and you’re having visions of driving down the highway with the top down and if you’re really lucky, you’ll get to actually do that by May. But before you venture out on your car buying journey, heed this important advice (modified from USAA).
When to Shop?
Of course, the easiest time to shop is on weekends for most people–but that’s just it. It’s the best time for MOST PEOPLE! Dealerships are swamped on the weekends and this has some consequences for you. First, you don’t get the attention you deserve and the last thing you want to feel when making a big purchase is rushed. On a slower day, when there’s not a customer waiting in the wings, you are more likely to get a better deal, especially if hours of attention are spent on you–the salesperson does not want to spend time for naught. If you’re able, take a day off from work in the beginning of the week and take advantage of a slow day.
Always shop at the end of a month or quarter (March, June, October, December). Dealers and salespeople have monthly and/or quarterly goals they have to meet in order to qualify for bonuses. Of course, there is always the case that the salesperson has already met their goals. Sometimes, mid-month is the best time to buy for this reason. Feel them out and bide your time.
Shopping on holidays during “sales” is not worth it. Most dealerships will tell you that they offer the same prices throughout the year, or at least you can get that price. Advertised sales is nothing more than clever and flashy marketing.
When to Make an Offer?
Visit your first choice dealership in the morning and leave. You want to browse early in the day, while salespeople are fresh. Explain that you have more dealerships to visit. Come back late in the day and make your offer then. Salespeople are not going to want to spend hours in negotiations. Helping the bottom line for the day is always good and you might be more apt to get a better deal from an anxious manager.
Get the Best Deal
Manufacturers roll out new models in August and September, which means they will need to make room for new inventory. The selection of your older models will be fewer, but if you should be able to score a better deal. If the car is essentially unchanged from last year, even better.
Winter tends to be slow to begin with and if you’ve waited that long, you’ve also waited until the dealership is trying to make year end quotas. Fees and taxes could be reduced on existing inventory, and new models may be in great supply, which makes their pricing flexible. The worst time to buy a new model is in the fall.
However, the fall is the best time to buy utility vehicle, wagon or coupes, when summer vacations have gone by. Convertibles are a best buy in the winter, for obvious reasons. Consumers really want to show off their shiny new drop tops in the summer, and they’re a pain for dealers to have on the lot in the winter.