Ask LH: When’s The Cheapest Time To Buy A Car?

Ask LH: When’s The Cheapest Time To Buy A Car?
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Hi Lifehacker, I’m in the market to buy a new car, and I’m wondering which months have the best deals? Does when you buy make a difference? Thanks, Show Me The Money

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Dear SMTM,

As a general rule of thumb, the best time to buy a new car is during the end-of-financial-year period (June). This is when car dealerships are pushing to reach their sales targets, which results in lots of big sales.

You can also find good deals at the end of the calendar year (December) when dealerships are trying to get rid of old stock to make way for new models. Cars also tend to receive discounts at the end of each month rather than at the beginning. This is because dealers often haven’t sold enough vehicles to meet their monthly targets and are therefore eager to make a sale.

If you have your eye on a specific car model, it pays to hold off until the next model refresh. Whenever a car receives an update, its predecessor experiences a sharp drop in value. In other words, wait for the car to get a face-lift and you can expect to take advantage of some run-out deals.

On a side note, if you’re looking to save money, the best deals are to be found in the second-hand market. Even very recent models that are still in excellent condition suffer from significant depreciation. (Is that “new car” smell really worth thousands of dollars?) Keep an eye out for popular fleet models — these tend to be kept in decent nick and are quite cheap due to their proliferation in the market.

If any readers have any additional car-buying tips, let SMTM know in the comments section below.


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  • Actual question – do you guys do any research for the Ask LH section, or is it just based on your opinions?
    Also, have you come across any evidence suggesting that there is seasonal patterns in the price/sales of second hand cars (and motorbikes)?

    • Yes, we do research all Ask LH questions. I’ve interviewed professional car sellers for previous stories, so I drew from that knowledge as well as some online research.

  • Imo I often find most people are inclined to buy cars around tax return time. Obviously around holidays like christmas and easter people won’t be wanting to buy as much.

    Just my experience – sold 10 cars this year alone lol

  • I wouldn’t waste money on a new car in the first place, unless you’re after a specific spec level/colour combination or something, but even then. Even buying a demo car with only a few thousand k’s on the clock would net you significant savings.

  • Feb each year is a notoriously slow month for all spending. Couple this with previous build year run out sales @ dealers, the last couple weeks of Feb tend to be best deals for new cars (provided your not worried about build year) .
    That said 2nd hand market is still much better value. Especially a fleet car still under warranty.

  • I bough 4 cars last year and each one lasted about a month because of the condition. I found a company that buys all kind of vehicles and pay good amount of cash.

  • Remember to work out your financing before you go down! If they are doing limited time deals, you’ll want to be prepared!

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