The Best Time to Buy a Car

Stopwatch sitting on gold background
When trying to determine the best time to take out an auto loan and buy a car, two words should help consumers the most: “The End.” Car dealers grant their salesmen incentives to meet a series of quotas each month and each year. As a result, salesmen forego some of the sneaky profit-optimizing tactics they employ and instead just try to seal deals quicker by offering lower prices at the end of various cycles and quota deadlines.
The End of the Month
Every month, car salesmen are rated on their sales performance and are offered incentives for meeting certain quotas. From looking good in their management’s eyes to cash prizes, salesmen strive to be the top performer. As a result, when the end of the month rolls around, they are far more prone to meeting an auto loan holder’s requests.
Jesse Toprak, vice president of Industry Trends and Insights at, told U.S. News, that the last weekend of every month is the best time for month-end discounts. Salesmen know that the month’s final weekend is the last wave of potential buyers dealerships receive, which makes them more accommodating and eager to sell cars.
And it’s not only individual salesmen that strive to meet end-of-the-month quotas. “Manufacturers offer dealers volume bonus incentives,” Toprak said. “They will say if you sell 20 Camrys this month we’ll give you $500.” This results in dealerships allowing their salesmen to push certain models for cheaper prices as the month’s end nears.
The End of the Calendar Year
Auto loan holders should also expect huge deals come the end of the year.  Just as end-of-the-month quotas are expected to be met, so are end-of-the-year quotas. Toprak refers to the end of the year as the time when the perfect storm of factors all fall in line.
First, salesmen are expected to meet a certain yearly quota. They will try their hardest to meet and exceed that number as the days in the year begin to lessen.
Second, the beginning of the year is typically a very slow time for car sales. Auto loan holders spend a lot of money on the holidays and usually don’t venture onto car lots until they bounce back from their holiday spending sprees. As a result, salesmen try to secure deals before the 1st of January so they can prepare themselves for the slow time of the year.
To back these points with statistics, U.S. News reported that “six of the 10 best days to buy a new car all year fall within the months of October, November, and December.” The days right after Thanksgiving and Christmas being two of them.
The End of the Model Year
Finally, the last point in that perfect storm of factors is that many of the following year’s models will already be on a dealership’s lot come the end of the year. This incentivizes salesmen make the older models more attractive than newer models so the dealerships don’t get stuck with old cars.
Fortunately for auto loan holders, the way salesmen make those older cars more attractive is by cutting the price. Toprak told U.S. News that the discount between current models and last year’s models can be between $2,000 and $3,000.
Make the End Come to You
If prospective car buyers want or need a car immediately, and outside of these prime buying times, then they should try to make the “end deals” come to them.
In order to secure the best deal, consumers need to make sure to do their research before venturing onto a dealership. Through resources such as Kelley Blue Book, consumers can educate themselves on the true value of both new and used models. That way, consumers know when a salesman has hit the floor on his offer, or if he’s still trying to squeeze money out of them.
Consumers should also obtain an auto loan before negotiating the price of a vehicle. Banks and credit unions usually offer lower interest financing than dealerships do, and with the help of online forms, as located on this site, consumers can receive offers from various lenders at once—making selecting the best auto loan easier than ever.
By coming prepared with car price knowledge and an auto loan on hand, consumers can steer end deals their way, regardless of the date.