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What's the "Best Time" of Year to Buy a Used Car?

What's the "Best Time" of Year to Buy a Used Car?

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Finding the Best Time of Year to Buy a Used Car

Looking to buy a used car? Seasonality can play a serious part in you scoring a deal on a preowned vehicle. Practicing a little patience could go a long way in saving you anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars on your purchase. Read on for details on the best months to head to the lots.

What is the best time of year to buy a car?

Consider the following factors and trends to help you determine when to buy your next used car:

1) Don't buy seasonal cars during the corresponding season.

Trying to get a used convertible in July is a nightmare on your wallet. If you are in the market for a used convertible, wait until winter comes before making your purchase. Similarly, delaying your purchase of a car with four-wheel drive until summer could result in you finding a better deal than if it's already snowing outside.

Consider the type of car you're in the market for, and if it's seasonal or intended for a specific type of climate, wait until the opposite season or climate arrives before making a deal. Demand is likely to be much lower, leading you to find sellers more willing to strike a deal.

2) Used cars are generally sold more in spring and summer.

If you're trying to save on a used car purchase, try to avoidbuying your vehicle during spring or summer. These are peak used-car purchase periods, since used car dealerships are overloaded with parents looking to reward their recent grads, adventurers are looking to upgrade before their road trip, and shoppers motivated by that ubiquitous urge to buy that always seems appear as soon as warmer weather rolls in. 

Waiting until the colder months hit means you're more likely to not only get a better deal but, since there's more inventory in the lot during that time, to have a wider selection of vehicles to choose from as well.

3) Dealers care about meeting their quotas.

Bonuses and commissions account for a huge chunk of what car salesmen actually take home, and they earn these by reaching quarterly and annual quotas. In a rush to reach their quotas, they become more open to negotiating prices toward the end of a quarter or year. Use this info your advantage while bargain shopping.

4) Dreary days can be better than sunny ones.

A basic tenet of negotiating as the buyer is to wait to purchase until supply exceeds demand. People tend to go car shopping in better weather, and opt to stay inside when it's rainy or snowy. This is your time to capitalize and use this leverage to find a better deal.

5) Use the holidays to your advantage.

Used car prices tend to drop in colder months, and good deals can be found particularly on holidays that take place during these times. iSeeCars.com looked at 40 million used car sales from 2013 to 2015 and found that buyers were getting better deals (compared to an average day) during these holidays:

  • Veterans Day - 32.5% more deals
  • Thanksgiving - 30.6% more deals
  • Columbus Day - 30.5% more deals
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day - 29.4% more deals
  • Christmas Eve - 28.7% more deals
  • Christmas - 21.4% more deals

6) Buy a used car on Black Friday.

Black Friday no longer just applies to the world of personal electronics. Instead, it has become a universal day of discounts. iSeeCars.com identified 33% more deals on Black Friday compared to the average day.

Get coverage for your used car

When you purchase a used car from a dealership, they'll most likely give you the option to buy an extended warranty or service plan that covers certain repairs if and when they're needed. But buyer beware: their coverage may come with restrictions, including:

  • Limited repair facility options: You may have to bring your vehicle to an authorized dealership for coverage to apply.
  • High cost: If you finance your car purchase, your service plan may be included in your monthly bill, which means you'd be paying interest not just on your car, but on your coverage as well.

Alternatively, you can purchase a third-party Vehicle Service Contract. A VSC is similar to an extended warranty, in that the VSC provider agrees to pay for covered repairs and replacements if and when your vehicle needs them. Additionally, VSCs often require no money down and may allow you to cancel your contract at any time. VSC providers may allow you to take your car to a range of repair facilities nationwide, rather than narrowing your choices to authorized dealers only.  

At Toco Warranty, our VSC plans offer both flexible repair facility options and pricing, in addition to a host of other benefits. Learn more about our plans and the coverage available here.

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