When to Buy a Car

A man inspecting his car as he shops for a new vehicle.
They zip.  They zoom.  They get us from A to B and everywhere in between.  Maybe you like going to the car dealership, checking out the sleek curve of the car and seeing the dashboard glow when you get ready for a test drive.  The engine even hums in agreement when you say you want to buy the car, but when you look at the sticker you go into shock.

If you’re thinking about getting a new car, do your homework first.  Take the time to determine the best car to suit your needs and your budget.

If you’d like the best possible deal (who wouldn’t?), consider the following action steps:

  1. Find out the dealer’s cost for your selected vehicle and its options.  Luckily, the internet makes this a simple task.  Most dealerships have an online sales department that will get you a quote within two to three days.
  2. Get at least three quotes or price comparisons for the car you are shopping for.  You can also use services such as Autobytel.com and PriceQuotes.com to cross-shop multiple dealers.  You’re under no obligation to pay the quoted price, and it can be a potent bargaining chip with other dealerships.  Other resources for pricing include kbb.com, edmunds.com and carfax.com.
  3. Getting a pre-approved loan will give you added confidence in negotiating a good price.
  4. The end of the month, end of the quarter and end of the year are usually good times to inquire about pricing.  Around this time promotions and special pricing may expire, so be prepared for bigger crowds.
  5. Other times to consider are seasons.  Seasons?  For a car?  You bet.  If it’s winter, salespeople know you won’t want to buy a convertible and freeze to death.  So if you think a convertible would be fun for a warm summer day, buy that top-down car during the winter when you’re more likely to get a good deal.
  6. Don’t want to get a convertible and don’t want to wait till year-end?  Try to at least wait until summer turns into fall.  Around the month of August, dealerships are getting ready to introduce new models with certain body types (e.g. coupes, wagons, etc.), which means they will be more likely to drop prices on older models to make room for new ones.  Keep in mind though that this could mean you have a limited variety because your options are whatever they have left.
  7. Saving money on a car isn’t always about when you buy it but where you buy it.  When you buy a car from places like Carmax or sales lots for rental cars or lease returns, you could buy a gently used car for much less than the price of the latest model!  These often come with the balance of the manufacturer warranty, and extended warranties are offered on certified used cars.

Buying a car takes financial planning.  If you want helpful spending plan worksheets and suggestions on how best to fit a new car payment into your budget, call a Money Coach today.