The end of the year is upon us. The holiday hustle and bustle is past and we’ve entered into the period when retailers and car dealers alike slash prices to move inventory and make way for brand new items on their showroom floors. If you can unstick yourself from the couch or detach yourself from another helping of holiday pie to do a little bit of savvy shopping you can find some fantastic deals in the week between Christmas and New Years. We here at Instamotor want to help you understand why now is the right time to buy and what you can do to hunt down the best deals for your hard earned cash.
First, there’s the weather. You know the lyrics to the popular Christmas song, right? “The weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful…” That is largely the exact sentiment that a majority of folks feel during the holidays. That means that getting out of the house to go car shopping is a much bigger production than most people can muster. Dealers and private sellers have to work much harder to entice people to venture out to come and see their new and used cars, and they do that by offering up good deals.
The other aspect that makes this time of year particularly appealing to go out and get a new or used car is that many people have already spent up their hard earned cash on holiday gifts. That means that there are fewer buyers who can afford to go out and buy new or used cars, which means that the dealers and sellers are more likely to want to negotiate prices.
Third, dealers are trying to clear out this year’s inventory to make way for the new 2017 and even 2018 models that are on their way to their showrooms. So if you walk into a showroom and show interest in a 2016 model, the dealers are likely to be willing to do some wheeling and dealing to get you into a model they want to move off the floor.
In addition to the fact that they want to clear their showrooms for new things, dealers and sellers are likely to want to try and hit their sales goals or get their vehicle sold before the end of the year and the close of books. That means that if they have vehicles they need to move, they are more likely to give better deals just to hit their sales numbers. This year in particular is a pretty good year to purchase a car between Christmas and New Years since dealers will keep their books open until Tuesday, January 3 because the New Year falls on a weekend.
So how good could the deals be? If you are in the market for a new car, Money Magazine says that you could save as much as 7.7% on the price of a new car. That’s quite a bit of cash. Used cars generally offer a similar savings and realcartips says you can save around $800 on a vehicle that costs $16,000 when buying now. Used car prices go through a predictable and regular fluctuation with prices moving higher in the summer and fall and dropping off in the winter and spring. According to realcartips.com who cite CarGurus.com and Kelley Blue Book, prices between August and January can vary by as much as 5%. One major reason for the drop is that each calendar year that passes makes a used car one year older. That tends to affect people’s perception of the value of a car, even if it hasn’t changed the mileage or quality of the machinery under the hood.
So how do you ensure that you are getting the best deal on a new or new to you car this week? First, as Money Magazine points out, you need to “hone your haggling.” One good idea is to negotiate at the end of the day when dealers and sellers are tired and looking to get out the door. They are more likely to say yes to a lower offer as a result. Second, it’s best to wait until as close to the end of the month as possible. Perhaps even going in on December 31 if you know exactly what you want and if you know that the inventory is available.
Which leads us to our second tip—always make sure that the dealer you are visiting has the exact car you want. That means that you should do more than just check the inventory online. Call ahead and make absolutely sure that the car is on the lot. Sometimes, particularly in the busy season and over the holidays, inventory online doesn’t get updated often and a car that appears to be on the lot has, in fact, been sold already. Especially when you are trying to buy a car before the end of the year you don’t want to waste time heading to a dealership that doesn’t actually have the car you want.
Speaking of doing your homework before you head to the dealer, check out KBB.com to figure out what a fair price for that new-to-you car might be. Make this the upper level of what you want to pay and negotiate from there. Ask for any kinds of rebates, deals or specials if you head to a dealer, especially if you are a senior, a student, or a veteran as this can also save you a bundle.
Never shop based on payment, either. When you sit down at the negotiation table do not mention a monthly price you want to pay. This tips your hand and gives the dealer the wiggle room to increase add-ons, or play with the interest rate they offer you in order to get you into a car. Always let the seller start the negotiation. That way you know where they stand on the price and you can work from there.
Also, be sure that when you go to the closing that you avoid any sort of last minute back room add-ons like special paint coating or interior coatings. These are how dealers get you to increase the price you pay.
By following these tips and others here at Instamotor you can ensure that you get the best deal on a new or new to you car. Check back here on the regular to get more tips on how to find the best deal for you.
Founder and a car nut. Born and raised from Detroit, Michigan. Val managed 12 dealerships prior to founding Instamotor.