Is there a best month to purchase a used car?

My husband & I own a single car that’s circling the drain. We can manage to get where we need by mass transit, but with difficulty, and will need a vehicle when we remodel our living room.

We intend to buy a used car, subcompact, less than 6 years/80,000 miles. We plan to get a preapproved car loan from our bank, and not finance thru a dealership.

Right now, it’s the beginning of December, and I can’t help but suspect that buying a car during the holiday season might not be the best tactical move. I know that for many durable goods, it’s worth waiting til January.

Anyway, does anyone have any hard evidence [or professional experience] that could inform the decision of whether to use transit for a couple of weeks in the interest of getting a better deal after the new year?

I would say not really.  It depends on the local market, the general economy, the type of car you are interested in etc.  

If you want a 4WD car for snow conditions, then I would not look for one now, but wait until spring.  If you want a convertible, now would be a good time.  

In reality, you buy when YOU need to buy.  

[i] Right now, it's the beginning of December, and I can't help but suspect that buying a car during the holiday season might not be the best tactical move.[/i] 

I would not worry about that.   [b] Cars are bought and sold all year long [/b].

If you live where the winter weather is nasty then Dec., Jan., and Feb., are relatively slow months as far as buying and selling cars. If someone wants to make a sale, less buyers out there means lower prices. Things start to pick up again in March.

When I was selling cars December was the slowest month of the year, and therefore the best time to make a deal. Everyone was desperate for a sale.

Having said that, I don’t think there really is a “best” month for used cars. They’re not the same as new cars.

Buy a car when you need one. Waiting won’t help.

Getting a good price on a used car:

1% ---- time of the year, end of the month, etc.
1% ---- your negotiating skill
98% — research on prices, models, options, etc. Know exactly what you want and what you are willing to pay BEFORE you talk to a salesperson.

Absolutely true.

I second the motion… :slight_smile:

Best thing you can do is to “do your homework” before buying. Check out and look at owner’s reviews of used cars. You’ll quickly find out about the particular strengths and weaknesses of the year, make and model car you’re looking at, plus overall ratings given the car by its owners. You can research several different cars this way, and make an informed choice when it comes time to buy.

Wow, thanks, all, for the quick replies.

Of course I’d never buy a car without all the due dilligence - my family was in the auto parts/used car biz while I was growing up, and I know how important it is to research, look carefully at the candidates, get a mechanic’s opinion, and not fall in love with any particular vehicle until I’m ready to hand over the cash.

I just figure that if there is anything else I can do to get even a small advantage in the process, it’s still an advantage, and I can use whatever advantage I can get.

You might even be able to get the dealership to get you a lower interest rate if you let them know you’ve been preapproved for a loan. I had all but signed the final dotted line on my car loan until their finance manager found me a lower rate for the same term. Since I bought new, and spent several thousand dollars, the savings of even .25% can add up to a few hundred dollars saved in the long run.

Knowing your budget we can help you find a vehicle, or atleast point you in the right direction. Like how a Chevy Prizm will be cheaper to buy than it’s identical twin, the Toyota Corolla.

The month before your old car dies.