Timing isn't everything; but if you've decided you want (or need) a new car, the month, day, and even time you go in and complete the deal can affect how good of a deal you get.
There are two sides to thinking about this: First you need to decide whether it's the right time for you to get a new car, and secondly, we have some valuable advice to follow on when exactly you might find that better deal.
Is it the best time for you?
Assuming you've already decided that a new car—versus a used car—is best for you (and that's a separate debate altogether), you need to ask yourself some important questions: What does a car mean to you? Is it an extension of your image, or is it purely an appliance?
If you're a salesperson, realtor, or other professional and having the right newer vehicle is important for your professional image, then don't wait. You should be considering leasing anyhow.
Otherwise, if you're planning to buy, you should consider the state of your current car. Has it been reliable? Would you feel better with a new vehicle before or after winter? Does your current vehicle get poor gas mileage that would be offset by getting a new, more fuel-efficient car sooner? In any of these cases, it might not be worth waiting for the few hundred dollars you might potentially save by buying at the right time.
Is it the best time for a deal?
As we've outlined in previous posts like this one, knowing when to shop and get the best deal is complicated, but the typical level of discount you get from a new vehicle could differ by one percent or more of the total vehicle price, depending on the time of the month you shake hands.
Spring is probably the best time of the year to get the best deal, because dealer stock is typically strong and it's often considered a make-or-break month for the industry, before summer. In the fall, as the current model-year vehicles are getting cleared out and replaced by new ones, you'd better be getting a deep discount off sticker price, as the plunge in resale value—that you see the moment you drive off the lot—is even steeper.
Generally (and using data-supported advice from the vehicle-pricing site TrueCar), we can stand by the following advice on when you're more likely to find the best deal (hint: weekday evenings aren't that time):
- The end of the month is better, typically
- Major holiday weekends are windows of opportunity
- Monday mornings are also a good time to shop
One final piece: financing
If you're ready to jump into a new car, keep an eye on interest rates with your bank or credit union. Just a slight ride in the going rate could substantially bump up your monthly payment—or require a longer loan than you intended. If you think that rates are on the way up, don't put this off too long.
Remember that, all this considered, there's one other 'best time' to go shopping for a new car, and that's after you've done some research—on potential models, pricing, and specs—and you can do it all here in our New Cars section.