Fall selling season was long considered the best time to buy a new vehicle. Fall was when new inventory was moved in and dealerships were gearing up to liquidate last year's models, making this a very buyer-friendly time of year.
But nowadays finding a deal on a car or truck is more fluid. Year-round marketing gives shoppers even more opportunity to save money or get the vehicle they want. So when is the best time to buy a car? That depends on a variety factors.
• Financing: Most people do not buy a car with cash and must apply for financing or a leasing program. Take inventory of your finances and check your current credit score to see if now is a practical time to buy a car. Use the various online payment calculators to determine a rough estimate of financing costs. This way you'll be informed of the payment range that is affordable to you.
• Rebates: Call the auto manufacturer for up-to-date information on rebates and look through the newspaper to see if any deals are being advertised. After you have negotiated a deal with the dealer, then you can have the rebate deducted, rather than getting a check in the mail later on. This way you do not pay sales tax on the rebate.
• Sales quotas: Many salespeople have quotas to meet and will be more eager to cut a deal if they are quickly approaching that quota. Quotas may be at the end of the week, end of the month or end of the year. Therefore, sales personnel may be more motivated to give you a discount on Friday or Saturday, after the 25th of the month, or at the end of the year.
• Buyer loyalty: Explain to the dealership that you're willing to use its service department and refer friends. A positive survey report or increased potential to buy from the same dealership in the future are other things to mention.
• Patience: If you are thinking about buying but not ready to bite the bullet, visit the dealership on a weekday when you are more likely to get a salesperson's undivided attention. On busy weekends you may be competing for attention or ignored if you're not a serious buyer. Take a test drive and get all of the facts on the vehicle.
• The big picture: According to Edmunds.com, pay attention to everything that's being offered to you, including trade-in value, interest rates and additional costs, focusing on more than just the selling price.
Buying a car is a big decision and one that requires weighing numerous variables, including the best time to buy.