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Bottom Line Up Front

  • Shopping on days in the middle of the week—and toward the end of the month—can result in better service and better deals. 
  • Car dealerships offer holiday sales, special events or other incentives throughout the year to boost business, hit sales quotas and unload extra inventory.
  • Buying in September or October is great timing if you’re looking for a deal on the previous year’s models, while December is considered the cheapest month to buy a car. 

Time to Read

7 minutes

January 23, 2024

When you want the best deal on a car, you might check your local dealership for a sales event. Maybe you’ll even practice your haggling skills. Both tactics can help you land a good deal on a new car. But to maximize your savings, you also need to consider the timing of your next auto purchase. 

The time of month, the day of the week and the time of the year all can have a big impact on whether great car deals are available. Here are some important factors to consider when you’re determining the best time to buy a car.

What Are the Best Days of the Week to Buy a Car?

Weekdays, not weekends. For better deals and better service, visit the car lot on a weekday instead of on weekends—preferably in the middle of the week. 

Even though setting aside time on the weekend for car shopping is practical for most people, it has its drawback. Saturdays and Sundays usually are the worst days of the week to visit a car dealership because they’re so busy. 

With so many people there trying to buy cars, trucks and SUVs on the weekend, salespeople won’t be inclined to cut deals to make a sale.

The dealer’s financing office also may be overwhelmed by the increased volume of weekend shoppers. You may have to wait a long time for a loan offer—or not get the best interest rate or financing options available.

Not all weekdays are the best option for deal-seeking shoppers, though. Fridays tend to be busier as weekend shoppers get an early start. Similarly, Mondays may be busy, with spillover shoppers who didn’t finalize a purchase during the weekend.

If your local auto dealer is closed on Sundays, then Mondays likely will be busy. In that case, plan to wait until at least Tuesday to shop for your next new or used car.

What Are the Best Times of the Day to Buy a Car?

Later in the day. Early bird gets the worm? That’s not necessarily true for car shoppers. You may be more likely to get a better deal if you wait until the end of a long day to head to the car lot. The salesperson may be less likely to draw out the haggling process and let you quickly walk out with a good deal so they can wrap up for the day.

This tactic is more likely to work better during slower times of the year or month. Salespeople may feel more incentive to negotiate a competitive price then. It’s the last chance for them to meet their monthly and yearly sales quotas. They won’t want to let car buyers walk away without making a sale.

What Are the Best Times of the Year to Buy a Car?

There are many times of the year that can be great for car buying. Seasonality plays a big role in whether customers will find more discounts, incentives, rebates and cash-back offers.

Here’s a rundown of some of the best holidays, months and seasons to purchase a vehicle.

Best holidays to buy a car

Holidays tend to bring great retail deals, and auto sales are no exception. Many dealers capitalize on the excitement of a special event. That can translate into everything from sticker price markdowns and cash-back incentives to higher trade-in values. 

Keep your eyes peeled for deals and discounts during popular holidays, 3-day weekends and special seasonal events, including:

  • Presidents Day (mid-February)
  • Memorial Day (late May)
  • Independence Day (early July)
  • Labor Day (early September)
  • Black Friday (late November)
  • Christmas through New Year’s Eve/Day (late December and early January)

National holidays aren’t the only special occasions for dealer markdowns and incentives. Many dealerships also participate in local events and days of recognition to attract local buyers. Check dealers’ social media accounts and websites for seasonal sales announcements. If there’s a reason to celebrate, chances are there’s a deal to be had.

Best months to buy a car

The best month to buy a car can depend in part on whether you want to buy a brand-new model or if you’re looking for a deal on a make and model that’s at the end of its cycle.

September and October. Car prices drop when the new supply of next year’s car models become available—typically in September and October. The current year’s models suddenly become less desirable, which is good news for bargain hunters. As automakers roll out the new year’s models, car dealers are eager to sell off the old models to make room on their lots.

That makes September, especially around Labor Day, a perfect time to get a deal on an end-of-year car that’s basically still new. Sure, the older design might be missing some non-essential newer features, but that works in your favor if you’re hunting for a deep price cut. In fact, your discount may be even bigger if the car you want got a major redesign for the new model year.

Do some research and find out when the supply of new models will become available so you’ll be ready to act. You’ll have the information you need to make a competitive offer on an older model at the perfect time of the month or year. 

October, November and December. The late-fall months also are a great season to find deep discounts on vehicles. That’s because the end of the year is a very busy and important season for dealerships and automakers.

As calendar years wrap up, dealerships want to sell as many end-of-cycle models as possible. They also want to end the year with a bang and boost their profits. Car dealers offer discounts throughout the year, but the prices and incentives in December usually are the best of the year.

At the same time, salespeople are working hard to hit their annual quota as well as their monthly quota for December. They may be more willing to cut shoppers the best deal possible just to sell more cars, which helps them earn their sales commission and year-end bonus.

The only drawback is that many other people are waiting until December to take advantage of big year-end deals. This could mean dealers are low on stock of the make and model you want. December shopping may work well for you if you’re flexible and willing to buy a different vehicle at an unbeatable price.

Best time of month to buy a car

The end of December. The final weeks of December are especially important to car dealers because it’s also the end of the year. But dealers have quotas to meet at the end of every month all year long. 

The end of most months. Overall, the best time to buy a car is the last few days of any month. Try to time your trip to the showroom to avoid busy Saturdays and Sunday, though. And if possible, skip January and February, when discounts typically aren’t as steep as in other months.

Best time to buy a used car

January and February. If you’re in the market for a used car, the start of a new calendar year can prove fruitful. When all those new-car shoppers trade in their old cars by the end of December, auto dealers will ring in the new year with lots of used cars they need to sell. They’ll be more likely to cut you a deal to free up room on their car lots.

Between October and December. Additionally, many people may be buying new cars and trading in their old cars during the fall holiday season. You may find affordable deals on used cars at the end of the calendar year.

What Are the Worst Times to Buy a Car?

Saturdays and Sundays. Car shopping on weekend days can mean you’re competing against the crowds for the attention of salespeople. With demand high on the weekends, you may be less likely to find a great deal then. Plan to car-shop on weekdays instead.

Early in the new year. Aside from federal holiday sales events, January and February are typically slow months for car sales. According to Edmunds, although dealerships may be offering discounts, the price drops on new cars are the smallest of the year during those 2 months.2

Summer is the unofficial kickoff of the car sales season for any calendar year. If you have time and aren’t in a rush to purchase a new car, wait until at least May—or even September, if possible—to have the best shot at getting a great price.

Choose Your Best Time to Buy a Car

Think about what’s most important to you to make your car-buying decision—whether it’s hunting down the deepest deals or driving off in the newest set of wheels possible. Also assess your budget and other financial obligations. In the end, make sure you’re committing to buy a vehicle you can comfortably afford.

When you’ve timed everything perfectly and feel it’s the best time to buy a car, Navy Federal Credit Union can help make and finance your purchase. Look for discounts and options online and at local dealerships through our Car Buying Service, powered by TrueCar®.1 And check out our 100% financing options and great rates on new and used cars. View our auto loan rates and apply online.

Next Steps Next Steps

  1. Think about your flexibility and timing for getting a new car. If possible, wait until one of the best times of the year to find competitive discounts and offers, and try to visit the showroom on a weekday.
  2. Do research on available makes and models as well as the fair-market prices so you’ll know when you find a great deal. See how our Car Buying Service can help you locate information, deals and purchasing opportunities.
  3. Plan your trip to the dealership and be prepared to negotiate. You can apply for an auto loan preapproval before you set foot on the car lot.



TrueCar operates the Navy Federal Car Buying Service. Navy Federal is not responsible for any offer, purchase, lease, or service provided by or through the Navy Federal Car Buying Service.

2Ronald Montoya. When is the Best Time to Buy a Car. Accessed on February 5, 2024. 

This content is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.