Best And Worst Times To Buy Used Cars

There are best times and worst times to buy a used car, believe it or not. What is considered a good deal is a savings of at least five percent or anything over $1,000. While the end-of-the-year sales and holiday season have always been considered the best times, there are actually better times to buy a used car

The early part of the new year is the best time to purchase a used car

The early part of the new year is really the best time to purchase a used car. That’s because a lot of off-lease trade-ins don’t start showing up at auctions and on dealership lots until after the holidays. With supply and demand being the guiding principle, with more cars showing up the prices go down. 

A sign for a used car dealership
A sign for a used car dealership | Getty

Surprisingly, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is the best day to buy a used car. Who knew! According to iSeeCars you’re likely to see savings of almost 40% around that day. Beyond this specific time, the months of January and February come in second at almost 30%-off and 21%-off respectively. 

Christmas and New Year’s Day see deals at 10% and 20% off respectively

The days following Christmas and into New Year’s Day see deals at 10% and 20% less respectively. But, just as there are better days and periods to purchase a used car for the deal offered there are also worse times. These would be periods where there would be fewer deals offered. 

Topping the list is the Fourth of July. You would think this kicks off the dealer’s efforts to lower inventory for trade-ins coming as a result of new models hitting in September and October. Instead, it is the opposite. Since the next year’s new cars don’t start appearing until August or September, dealers are at their lowest inventories right before the new-car season. So prices tend to be higher.

Used Car Dealership
A used car dealer in the city center of Detroit | Getty

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Less supply means higher prices

Also, with better weather and Memorial Day, Father’s Day, graduation, and Fourth of July sales, all of this translate into lower inventories leading into the new car season. Less supply means higher prices. In all, December through February are the best times to get a deal and as you go further into the year the deals get progressively less generous until you get back to the holidays. That would be a general way to look at the year’s best times for deals. 

And finally, whether you look at a weekday or weekend makes a slight difference. Because foot traffic is lower on weekdays better deals are made than because the dealer can count on more people coming on the weekends. So “striking while the iron is hot” and all of that makes sense for the dealer to deal a little more on a weekday.