What is the Best Time to Buy a Used Car?
A brand new car will be costly, irrespective of discounts and special offers. The alternative is to go for a used car, which will surely prove to be less expensive. However, you should always look at how much an investment will yield in the long run, instead of focusing on the short-term benefits.
Here are some of the reasons to opt for used cars instead of new ones:
- Used cars are often housed in lots next to new models in a dealership. Thorough inspections are performed on the cars by professionals, and the necessary repairs (if any) are also completed. They are declared to be “good quality vehicles” if all the checks indicate positive results. Some vehicles might be just 2-3 years old with low mileage.
- The moment their owners start driving them off from the lots, the value of new vehicles go down by a few thousand dollars or more. A second-hand car can thus save you quite a bit of money without having to compromise on quality.
- You have to shell out much less to cover the costs for taxes, insurance, and registration as opposed to a new car.
- If you are lucky to buy a vehicle that comes under the original warranty period, talk to the dealer to find out if the warranty is transferable. It can generally be arranged. Mega lots provide good warranty coverage at times. A default guarantee is available with every car sold by the lot or more coverage can be added for a reasonable charge.
So what is the best time to buy a used car?
Take advantage of certain holidays
Some holiday weekends are the perfect time to invest in a used car. iSeeCars.com conducted a study back in 2016, to ascertain the best holidays for getting lucrative deals – Remembrance Day, Black Friday, and Christmas Eve. Dealers have to hit their end of year sales targets you know!
Apart from the holidays mentioned above, steer clear from holidays where families typically gather such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Easter Sunday. Dealers are generally understaffed during this time as opposed to a regular day of the week, and private sellers are focused on the family events, rather than selling the family car. Fewer sellers in the market on any given day typically means higher prices. Since holiday weekends are popular times to buy new cars, with generous incentives and big sales on car lots, there are loads of vehicles coming back to the dealers as trade-ins or lease returns. Private sellers usually try to get rid of old cars in order to take advantage of deals. Right after a huge weekend sale, buyers are likely to find car lots full of vehicles awaiting refurbishment or shipping to auto auctions. There are several dealers who would wish to sell those used cars at deeply discounted rates (which they are likely to get in an auction).
Don’t forget about month, quarter, and year endings
Car salespeople and dealerships have sales quotas they have to hit each month, quarter and calendar year. These sales goals are often made in an effort to achieve their best month yet. As their compensation is often tied to meeting or exceeding a goal (unlike non-commission sales at DriveNation) salespeople are likely to work harder to make the sale. Buying a used car toward the end of those periods is an excellent way to get a deal. In fact, the end of the year is a great time to purchase. You could get a lower price on the car, a better deal on the car loan, and some extras, like an extended warranty. In the week or so after the last day of the month, quarter, or year, there are likely to be more used cars from trade-ins and lease returns in dealership lots. The best days to try and buy is between the big rush on new vehicles and the time dealers send their excess stock to auction.
Invest during off-season
During off-season the market goes through a lull, but chances of getting good deals soar. For instance, demand for convertibles in Canada is low during winter, so you can seize this opportunity. Four-wheel-drive SUV sales tend to be stronger in the early winter months and just before school starts in the fall. Fuel prices also tend to rise in the spring, making some owners want to sell and softening the price they can demand for SUVs that don’t get great mileage.
But this strategy for your car purchase won’t be of much use if you shop at large national used car retailers. They are always shifting their inventory around the country to be at par with the automobile market, while controlling supply and demand. In this effort, DriveNation keeps it’s inventory market-priced year-round, so that regardless of when you’re car shopping, you’ll be only be paying the best prices in Western Canada for that comparable vehicle.
Strike gold when there are deals
Certified pre-owned vehicles (or CPO cars) are frequently available with manufacturer-supported financing incentives. They offer buyers with interest rates well below the average in the marketplace. Needless to say, the best financing deals are zero percent offers, but it is tough to come across such deals these days as market rates continue to shoot up. To be honest, cars fitting the criteria of CPO vehicles are only available at the brand’s franchised dealerships and typically have higher price tags than equivalent non-certified used cars. But then again, they are the only used cars you usually find with automaker-sponsored deals in those flashy showrooms.
Have you come across heavily advertised sales at used car dealerships? Don’t be too taken in by those sales, as the entertainment value from the inflatable dancing figures on the lots is often the most tangible benefit of the sales. Before you actually buy the car, you have to make sure what the car is actually worth it and how much you have to shell out. A great starting point is to request the CARFAX vehicle history report. Free with DriveNation, you can see the number of past owners, accident history (if any), and more. From there you can gauge the quality of the vehicle to see if you’ve really struck a bargain.
Try your luck in winter
There are definitely some times of the year that are better for buying used cars. Nobody wants to be slogging across dealer lots or driving across town to test drive a private party used car in the dead of winter, so demand (and prices) tend to be lower in the winter months. The demand is particularly high during spring, so prices for car sales go up, generally speaking. The time around New Year’s is kind of the trifecta of perfect buying conditions: it is winter, it falls within holidays, and it is year-end.
Find out about auto shows in your city
Whenever there are people buying new cars in and around the area you reside in, the supply of used vehicles is bound to go up. This is all the more true during auto show season when dealers and manufacturers promote new cars and people trade-in or sell their old ones. The ripple effect of auto shows often lasts for several weekends, as buyers visit dealers for test drives, buying vehicles they saw on the auto show floor, and trading in their current vehicles.
Wait till new models come out
When automakers launch new or redesigned models, a spike in sales of those new cars is generally the trend. But it often coincides with many of the previous-generation models coming back off lease or being traded in for the new model. To put it in a nutshell, if you purchase a used version of a recently redesigned model, you might be able to save a considerable amount of money. Since many buyers seek the latest and greatest technology, car prices for outgoing models naturally take a dip when new models arrive in the market, and rates for your auto loan may follow suit.
Of course, it also matters that you have some money saved up because even if it is a used car, it won’t be as cheap as going to buy groceries or candy. The best route to saving money is to be fully prepared before your car-buying odyssey begins. Take time to research the used car you wish to buy (the model should fit your budget and requirements) – check out used car rankings and reviews. Know your credit score and get a pre-approved financing deal in place before you start shopping.
That way whether it’s the end of the month, you found something on Autotrader, or the Coronavirus has passed us by, you can be sure you’re comfortable in your new to you purchase. At DriveNation we offer hundreds of vehicles to choose from on the lot and have access to thousands more. If you’re looking for that perfect ride in Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, or beyond, give us a shout at our locations in Saskatoon, Regina, and Prince Albert. We deliver anywhere and will make sure any time of the year, is the best time of the year to buy, for you.