Best and worst times to buy a car

Unless you live in a city or urban area with mass transit, you’re going to need a car. It’s possible you live near a canal and travel by gondola, but even then, when the time comes to visit the in-laws or some place that’s inaccessible by gondola, like an apple orchard, you’re going to need a car. funny image of car and gondola The best way to save money is by reading this before buying a used car and to be strategic when visiting the dealership and reading this before you buy a use. The time of year and time of day can play a major role in the price you pay. So does the length of time a car sits on the dealership lot. Most dealers don’t want a vehicle on their lot for longer than 20 days, however, some cars can sit around for upwards of three months before being sold. If you see a car that’s been listed for sale longer than 60 days, you might have extra leverage when it comes to price. Luckily for you, Mojo Motors shows you the price history on every car. :)

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Note: This article is for shoppers looking to buy a car from a dealership. For the purposes of this post, we’re focusing on used cars because they really offer the best value to shoppers. Let’s get down to the basics, there are two types types of used cars: 1. Certified Pre Owned 2. Not Certified Pre Owned Certified Pre Owned (CPO) vehicles are sold with a manufacturer warranty and can only be found at franchise dealerships. To learn more about CPO cars go here for a comprehensive analysis of what vehicles qualify for each manufacturer.

A non certified pre owned car is cheaper than a CPO and there is no guarantee the car is in good working order so bring a mechanic! Also, you might want to weigh the options between buying new, CPO or used cars here. Before we get into our amazing data around the best months to buy a car, let’s focus on some general best practices on when to buy a car.

Buy at the end of the month

Dealers have aggressive sales goals and the end of the month is usually crunch time. Visit a dealership at the end of the month to get a deal as the sales team attempts to meet their goals. Car dealerships are incentivized to sell! At non-franchise stores, there are no kickbacks from the manufacturer, but that doesn’t mean sales teams aren’t incentivized to sell like the dickens. Remember, these folks are competitive and being named the top salesperson of the month can command a hefty commission check. If a dealer hasn’t hit their monthly goal towards the end of the month, sometimes they will resort to losing money if it means they can sell another car.

Buy in the morning or evening

When you really need a car – LIKE RIGHT NOW BECAUSE I NEED TO GET TO WORK AND MAKE MOOLAH – waiting until the end of the month or a particular month isn’t an option. Don’t worry, you still have options at your disposal to get the dealer to come down on price. GM Car Dealership At Dusk Picture If you’re all about the best customer experience, go in the morning while the rest of the world is working. Dealerships are usually pretty quiet in the morning and salespeople want nothing more than to make a quick sale before lunch. Avoid weekends like the plague unless you’re the kind of person that likes shopping on Black Friday. Another option for the night owls is going to the dealership half an hour before it closes. No one wants to spend all night at a car dealership, even the sales team. Visiting a dealer at the end of the day ensures an expedited purchase process and sometimes, less pushback during price negotiations. Don’t think you’ll be in-and-out in less than an hour because in most cases it can take around 90 minutes to finish all the paperwork.

Buy in the beginning of the year

Let’s say you’re not in a rush to buy a used car and you’re poking around the web waiting for the perfect car to appear at the right price. Hopefully you’re already shopping on Mojo and getting our alerts when dealers are dropping prices and selling cars. Alerts are a great way to gauge the market, but we wanted to see if there was more we could do to help people get an amazing deal. Thus, we looked at millions upon millions of price drops on used cars to find out. To do this, we first had to break out all the price drops in 2013 by month. We counted how many price drops there were in a given month and found the average value of each price drop. We argued that months with a larger number of price drops are the best months to buy a used car because dealers are more willing to negotiate on price. These months also tend to reflect low customer activity. When dealers don’t see consumer demand, they drop prices. In the graphs below, you’ll see that dealers drop prices more often in January, March, April and May than any month except for August and October. Alternatively, you’ll see dealers drop the price most towards the end of the year. graph of how often dealers drop prices Graph of How much Dealers drop pricesJust like our articles on the most reliable car brands or accuracy of KBB’s used car valuations, no data is perfect. A shopper could very well find an amazing deal in June or July, but based on our research, this is rarer than finding a spectacular deal in January or April. It’s also important to consider the weather and economy when buying a car. Take the beginning of 2014, for example. Car sales plummeted as the United States sat in a deep-freeze and people could barely get to the grocery store, let alone a car dealership. During times of inclement weather, shoppers can expect to find better prices on used cars because after a hurricane, tornado, earthquake or blizzard, who wants to go and buy a car? You do, because getting an amazing price is worth it. Any questions? Feel free to Tweet us.

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Written by Max Katsarelas & Michael Milstein
Photo source: Car and Driver