•Buy a car whenever you want, but you must be prepared to negotiate the price.
•Dealers are more willing to negotiate during some parts of the year.
•Don’t obsess over specific brands.
Few undertakings involve as much needlessly complicated thinking as buying (or leasing) a new car. We’ve already tried to simplify the whole “Buy or lease?” conundrum.
Now we’re going to do the same for the best-time-to-buy question.
And we’re going to answer the question right off: Any time is a good time to buy a car.
That’s right, you don’t have to buy during touted sales events — such as on the Fourth of July — or get hung up on hitting the dealership at the end of the month toward the end of the year, when dealers are trying to clear out old inventory to make room for new.
Yes, if you buy a car at those historically critical times, you may see 5%-8% shaved off the sticker price, so it is beneficial to know what the general sale patterns are. But if you want to get the best possible deal, you really need to overcome your insecurities about negotiating. Or to use the dirty word for most car buyers — haggle.
I know that no-haggle pricing is something that everybody allegedly wants, but no haggle pricing can be translated as “give away all your power to the dealer.”
Why you want to haggle
The lesson here is simple: prices are always flexible. There’s an MSRP that’s, importantly, “suggested,” but you don’t have to pay that price if you don’t want to.
The second thing to think about is the time-frame of your purchase, by which I mean, “How long can you shop around?” If you take a few months, you can wait for deals to come around, if you keep up with your research. This will also help you get your financing lined up before you go to the dealership, so you’ll get the best interest rate on your loan.
Finally, don’t get hung up on a brand. If you really like BMWs and have owned several, by all means play the loyalty card with your regular dealer.
But if you can conclude that you’re in the market for, say, a compact SUV, then you have many, many choices, and all of them are fairly good vehicles. Your best bet might be a gold-standard, such as the Honda CR-V. But a Hyundai Tuscon or Mazda CX-5 could come with a better deal.
Armed with this knowledge, you can leverage both time of year and your willingness to haggle to get not just a good deal but a great deal. If you only go by some of the old wisdom, such as shopping at the end of the month, you’ll go into the showroom with the dealer expecting you to be in search of optimal pricing. So you need to bring a little bit more in terms of attitude and, I hate to say it, overcome your anxiety about deciding how much you want to pay.
It’s your money (or at least your borrowing power) and you should be able to get as much out of it whenever you choose.