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Do you have plans to buy a new car this year? If so, it’s important to do your homework and make sure you’re getting the best deal. While there are many factors that impact manufacturer-sponsored vehicle incentives and dealership discounts, certain months are typically a better time to buy than others.

Spring Is Expensive

Spring may seem like an ideal time to buy or lease a new car. The nice weather draws people out of their homes and onto dealership lots. In addition, many people have tax refund checks to spend. However, increased shopper traffic at dealerships means salespeople may not have to offer deep discounts to encourage buyers. 

Moving inventory in the winter is difficult for dealers, but that’s not usually the case in the spring. With that said, early in the year, dealers aren’t in a frenzy to clear their lots for new models, so there’s not a driving force for incentivizing. They also aren’t yet overly concerned about end-of-the-year sales results. As fall and winter arrive, the push becomes much more of a reality.

In the end, the best deals on vehicles generally happen when demand is low. In a perfect world, you should shop for a sports car in the winter and a pickup truck or all-wheel-drive SUV in the summer.

August Is Key for Non-Luxury Deals

According to industry experts, August is the best time to buy mainstream vehicles from the current model year. In the summer, dealerships begin to get shipments of next year’s models. By August, it’s high time to start pushing out current models to make room for the new inventory. Since, in August, this transition is in its early stages, buyers should still find a healthy assortment of the current year’s vehicles available.

Once fall and winter arrive, many dealerships have few current-model-year cars left. While this may mean a good deal is possible, you aren’t likely to get the vehicle with the features you desire. Keep in mind that dealers typically offer the best discounts on cars that will be redesigned for the upcoming model year. Choosing a car in its last year before a redesign can save you a good chunk of money, but it may be lacking in technology and could depreciate more quickly than a recently updated model.

December Is the Time to Buy Luxury

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If you want a solid deal on a luxury car, December is the best month to buy. With the end of the year just weeks away, manufacturers, dealerships, and individual salespeople are all working hard to meet or beat their sales forecasts. However, while it’s likely you’ll secure a notable discount, you may not get the exact model or configuration you want since inventory will be thin.

The end of any month is a better time to buy than in the previous weeks. This is because each month dealerships are pushing to hit their monthly quota. For the same reason, the final week of each quarter may welcome additional incentives for buyers. Look to the last week of March, June, September, and December for the best potential for fantastic deals.

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Shop Between Christmas and New Year's Day

Factoring in everything we’ve suggested above points us to the best week of the year to buy a new car. The week between Christmas and New Year's is not only the last week of the month, the last week of the quarter, and the last week of the year, but also the winter and holiday season. You’re not likely to find droves of people walking around dealership lots in the cold. This is especially true if you live in an area that tends to get plenty of ice and snow. Additionally, many people have family commitments and vacations planned during this time. Finally, people’s budgets may be tight due to heavy holiday spending.

“While the best month to buy a car depends a lot on market conditions – how sales are doing, where interest rates are – December, particularly the week between Christmas and New Year's – typically has the lowest transaction prices, as dealerships look to end the year on a strong note, and most people aren't shopping then,” says Jamie Page Deaton, managing editor of U.S. News Best Cars. “When you add year-end deals to your already strong negotiating position, you end up having a great chance at saving a lot on a new car.”