The best time to buy a car or a truck is when you need it and can afford it. But that is probably not the answer you wanted.
When someone searches for “when is the best time to buy a car” he or she is probably looking for a deal —a way to save money on a very large and important purchase. And, frankly, if you’re buying a brand new car from an old-school, high-pressure dealership, seasonality can play a role in price. So, in this article you’re going to find two answers to the question of when to buy a vehicle.
First, we will provide the sensible answer. This one will focus on your finances, needs, and having a good dealership relationship.
Second, we have included some of the old-school, deal-hunting time periods for your consideration.
Sensible Car Shopping
The 2013 film, Wolf of Wall Street, is not something we recommend at Maverick Car Company. We are more of a family-friendly business, and this movie from director Martin Scorsese is filled with bad language, drug use, inappropriate situations, and worse.
Nonetheless, we mention it here because of one scene that helps to illustrate our point about the best time to purchase a car or truck.
The film’s protagonist, Jordan Belfort, who is played by Leonardo DiCaprio, is putting together a team of salesmen to help him sell worthless stock to unsuspecting customers. Most of the candidates have no real sales experience and have, in fact, previously worked as drug dealers. The group is sitting around a table together discussing the stock opportunity.
To make a point the Belfort character hands a pen to the best natural salesman in the group, a drug dealer named Brad, who is played by Jon Bernthal, and tells him to sell the pen.
Brad handles the pen for a moment and says, “would you do me a favor? Write your name down on that napkin for me.”
“I don’t have a pen,” DiDaprio’s Belfort replies, having just give a the writing implement to Brad.
“Exactly, supply and demand my friend,” Brad says.
The point is that you don’t need to buy a pen, or a car for that matter, until you actually need one. And while it might make sense to stock up on pens that cost a dollar or two, there is no good reason to impulse buy an SUV or sedan just because it is on sale.
Again, the best time to buy a car or truck is when you need it and can afford it.
Many financial experts suggest that you spend no more than 10-to-15 percent of your pre tax monthly income on transportation. That includes auto payments, insurance, maintenance, and fuel.
Thus, if you earn $5,000 per month ($60,000 per year), your total monthly transportation expenses should not exceed $750. At $50,000 per year or $4,166 per month, total monthly transportation expenses should be $625 or less.
In addition to the monthly expenses, you should also be prepared to make a down payment. In December 2019, Autotrader’s website recommended making a 20-percent down payment on auto purchases to avoid ever being “up-side down” in your loan.
“Making a healthy down payment has several advantages that benefit you throughout the whole term of your loan,” according to Autotrader. “With a loan, the bigger the down payment as a percentage of the value of the car, the closer you are to owning the car outright, which is the most financially secure position to be in with your car —in short, you’ll be gaining equity in the car. For example, if you make a 20 percent down payment rather than a 5 percent down payment, you’ve offset more of the depreciation hit, you’ve lowered your monthly payment, and you can probably afford to have a shorter term on your loan meaning you’ll own your car sooner and you’ll pay less in interest no matter what rate you negotiated.”
While 20-percent might be the goal, at a minimum, you are going to want $1,000 or so before you think about purchasing a car or a truck.
You don’t want to purchase a car or truck, unless you need it. If you just bought a car last month and it is providing you with good, safe, and reliable transportation, you probably shouldn’t buy a new vehicle this month just because the local new car lot is having yet another big sale.
Auto purchases are a big deal, and they are something you should try to plan and schedule.
So, for the third time in this article, let us say that the best time to buy a car or a truck is when you need it and can afford it.
If you expect buying a car to be a high-pressure confrontation, you are doing it wrong. Yes, it is true, that high-pressure salesmanship used to be common in the industry. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
The dealership you work with can become a resource for you. It should be able to provide you with services, information, and help at any time, not just every few years when you make a purchase. To make this point, here are five customer reviews from Google about Maverick Car Company.
Sara and Alex James
“Hands down, buying a truck from Maverick was the best experience we’ve ever had at a dealership! We’ve been looking for the right truck for a couple of months and Maverick had exactly what we were looking for. We didn’t have much time and we had our 11-month-old son with us, but Brady promised to get us in and out as quickly as possible. Even with getting financing we were out the door within an hour and twenty minutes —fastest car buying experience ever! We loved the no pressure, straight to the point attitude Brady had to make sure we could make the deal quickly. Thanks again for helping us find the perfect truck!”
“This is the only car company I will ever buy from again. We bought a truck two days ago. We had been “just looking” for quite some time. I found a truck on their website that I wanted. Went in and test drove it. Heath helped us and was amazing. Not pushy and was completely transparent with us from start to finish. Unfortunately, we were not able to get that truck, but went back the next day and got another truck. Again, Heath was amazing. In fact, everyone that we came in contact with there was extremely friendly and made sure we were being taken care of. I was impressed that I received an email from the owner to see if there were any problems with our experience with them. I have already told friends and family to check them out when they need a new vehicle.”
“What can I say…great people, great owner, great service. I have them do work on my cars several times, and have a great experience each time. I’m very happy with Maverick, and you should consider using them or buying a car from them. Like I said wonderful local business, doing the right things in the community!”
“This is seriously the best dealership experience I’ve had. Nobody here was pushy at all. They even let you test drive alone. After a couple weeks of back and forth texts with JP to get more info on a car I really liked, and what could make it happen, I bought today. Austin, the Finance Manager, took the time to honestly, and sincerely, explain how I could come up with the little extra in my monthly payment by writing out things I spend money on to see where I could save more. Austin also spent more time calling banks to find me the best APR and talked to the owner to get me more on my trade in. JP even let us take the car out, once more by ourselves, to get lunch so I could discuss further if it was do-able. When we came back, still no pressure, the signing was quick and painless. I was able to buy my dream car with a payment I could afford —they also gave me a very fair deal on my trade in.”
“I found this hidden gem of a company after being sourly mistreated by another dealership. I feel it was meant to be. I had seen a few cars online. I wanted to go look around town. I was able to look around for a bit to see what I was interested in, I was not “attacked” the second I got out of my car. NO high sales pressure! Very laid back and comforting. It was an awesome experience!! Crystal and Jeremy are great! Even after the sale they did a follow up with me to make sure I was content. Customer service at it’s finest.”
If you’re still convinced that you need to try to find a “deal” on your next car purchase, and you are willing to put up with a high-pressure dealership, there are some times of the year or even days of the week when new car dealers typically offer discounts.
Sundays & Mondays
Several sources, including U.S. News and World Report, cite a 2016 TruCar study which found that “shopping on a weekday will offer a better chance of getting a deal, with average savings hovering around 8 percent. Shoppers that buy a car on Monday have saved as much as 8.1 percent, which is the best average savings among all days of the week.”
More recently, TruCar claimed that Sunday was the best day of the week to buy a car.
“In the states where dealerships are open all week, Sundays see much higher savings compared to the rest of the week. However, many states don’t allow vehicle sales on Sundays. In fact, only about five percent of vehicle sales occur on Sunday. In those states that don’t sell on Sunday, there isn’t much variance in the best day to purchase.”
The Beginning Of The Month
Contrary to popular belief, car dealers are not typically panicked to “make their sales figures” at the end of the month, or so at least that is what investment website, The Street, reported in a 2014 article on the topic.
Citing TruCar, The Street said “that consumers paid the highest average amount for vehicles on the 31st day of the month —$31,545. That’s $843 above the $30,702 average that people paid during the study period for car purchases regardless of date.”
In contract, according to the article, “people who buy cars at the beginning of the month make out the best.”
The End Of The Model Year
Many sources also suggest that you purchase new vehicles at the end of the model year. The thinking is that dealers and manufacturers are likely to discount vehicles more deeply when they “roll over” and become a model year old.
While there are certainly no shortage of year end sales, new cars always take a hit in value the moment you drive home with them, and waiting a model year only makes that hit a bit larger.