Is Winter a Good Time to Buy a Used Car?

It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic did a number on the used car market. It’s 2022, and although the car market is cooling, used car prices remain high. In fact, some used cars cost more than their new counterparts. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy a used car this year. With winter right around the corner, it could be a good time to start shopping.

Buying a used car in the winter could save you money

Cars covered in snow at a car dealership in Weeley in Essex.
Cars covered in snow at a car dealership in Weeley, Essex. | Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images

More used cars are typically sold in the summer, so winter could be a good time to shop around. That might sound counterintuitive, but the thought is that sellers will be more eager to sell during the colder months. According to How Stuff Works, “This should result in lower prices and, possibly, a bigger inventory – you will have a bigger selection of car types, models, and prices.”

Another key point to consider is that many new car buyers will be trading their used cars in, so there will be more makes and models to choose from. In that case, the dealer may be more willing to negotiate on the used car price.

This ethos works with private sellers as well. Many private owners that purchase new cars in the wintertime will be looking to sell their old cars, so you may be able to score a good deal in the private party market.

Many dealerships want to get rid of their inventory at the end of the year

A snow-covered dealership.
A snow-covered dealership. | Jamie Duff – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

Another reason it could be a good idea to buy a used car in the wintertime is that dealers need to get rid of their inventory. Although used car prices remain high, there’s still some wiggle room in the dealer’s profits to get yourself a decent deal.

As weird as it may sound, it’s a great time to buy a convertible if you’re looking to gear up for the warmer months. As you can imagine, most car buyers aren’t thinking about buying a drop-top car, but if you are, then you can really win out in the wintertime.

Can you still negotiate used car prices in 2022?

A used Volkswagen Beetle in the snow.
A used Volkswagen Beetle in the snow. | Artur Widak/NurPhoto

Yes, but you’ll need to do your research extensively beforehand. Keep in mind that no two used cars are the same. So if you find one Audi Q3 with 20,000 miles, for example, for $30,000 on one lot, you can’t expect another Q3 with 25,000 miles to cost considerably less – like $20,000. There could be some options on the first Q3 that aren’t on the second one, hence the higher price.

Instead of comparing used cars to others in different dealer lots, it would be better to research the overall market value for the used car you’re interested in. For example, you can check Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds to get the market values on used Audi Q3s. Then check out a few used examples in the area to figure out a target price for the one you’re interested in.

That way, if the dealer is far off on its pricing, they may be willing to match the lower price of another dealer or beat it all together. Today’s used car market might still be at a high, but that doesn’t mean you can’t shop smart. Buying one during the winter months could be a great starting point.

RELATED: Best And Worst Times To Buy Used Cars