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“The waiting game” is the least exciting way to pass the time, but if you’re looking to get a good deal on a new car, then you’re going to have to be patient.

Many people don’t realize that carefully choosing when to buy your car can save you quite a bit of money. Well timed car purchases could save you thousands of dollars, if you play it just right. Here are a few tips to help you net that car you want – all while saving some precious money.

The Numbers Games
Dealerships and automakers award successful sales staff with money or perks for moving a certain number of vehicles during a given time period.

Steve Emery a consultant from the National Automobile Dealers Association explains that incentives can come from the automaker or within the dealership. Those issued by the automaker, are usually annually or quarterly, although monthly sales goals aren’t uncommon either. Then each dealership has their own incentive program for their sales managers and sales staff. “They’re like contests and can take place over a month,” he says. “The incentives for the sales staff works in a stepped manner- if you sell 10 cars you get a $500 dollar bonus all the way up to, let’s say 15 cars gets you $1,000.”

Emery advises buyers to visit dealerships at the end of the month in order to gauge how hungry the dealership is to make a deal. If the salesperson is desperate to hit their target that month or quarter they may offer a few discounts, or forgo the usual lengthy process and headache when it comes to buying a new car.
So when is the best time to buy a new car? Read all about it at AutoGuide.com
 

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2007 Forester Sports XT Manual
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220 Posts
Our dealership doesn't have internal sales incentives, so it doesn't matter what time of month you show up. Generally, the best time to buy a car is when the manufacturer is offering good rebates, which, for my brand, is December. The time for playing games with salesman is old fashioned and coming to an end.
 

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2014 Forester 2.5i CVT
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430 Posts
Maybe coming to an end, but it hasn't ended yet. The closest dealer to me tried to jack me up on a Forester. Wouldn't offer me anything close to what my clean, low-miles Imprezza (that I bought from them!) was worth. Not even what that dealer's online calculator said it was worth.

Drove 30 miles to a little hick town that has a tiny Subaru-only dealership. They were great. But the other guys? Still run by troglodites.
 

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2010 Forester Auto
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48 Posts
Our dealership doesn't have internal sales incentives, so it doesn't matter what time of month you show up. Generally, the best time to buy a car is when the manufacturer is offering good rebates, which, for my brand, is December. The time for playing games with salesman is old fashioned and coming to an end.
I create ads for all the local car dealerships in the area (toyota, jeep, ford). The prices change week to week but never very much and never with any foreseeable pattern. The changing incentives are what to look for. I bought my forester in Dec of this year from a gm dealership, they didnt know what they had and paid me a lot for my 06 Scion tC. Pricing was straight forward and fair, they only tried to make money off of me when it came to tacking on extra warranties and coverages.

I think a lot of buying a car has to do with your preparedness and knowledge about the vehicle you want. Show no fear.
 

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Just a member
03 XS AUTO
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850 Posts
The best time to buy a car depends on how picky you are. If you want the best deal, you buy a car when the next year model has been out for a couple of months or more. The price is the best, but the selection will be the worst. You may not find the exact trim level or color you want. If you have to have an exact model and color, you monitor the manufacturers website and look for rebates. Last day of the month is a better time to buy if the dealer is trying to hit a certain number of sales for that month. Two dealers will have different prices on the exact same model, so shop around.
 

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2006 FXT-L MT
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111 Posts
The best time to buy a car depends on how picky you are. If you want the best deal, you buy a car when the next year model has been out for a couple of months or more. The price is the best, but the selection will be the worst. You may not find the exact trim level or color you want. If you have to have an exact model and color, you monitor the manufacturers website and look for rebates. Last day of the month is a better time to buy if the dealer is trying to hit a certain number of sales for that month. Two dealers will have different prices on the exact same model, so shop around.

Ahhh the good ole' Gamblers Sale approach... the longer you wait the better the deal, but the less likely you are going to get exactly what you are looking for or having them run out.
 

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2015 XT premium The one without the fun pedal
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837 Posts
What worked in my case was going in after Christmas and getting yourself the present you didn't find under the tree. Right before the new year is the time you'll actually walk out of the dealership catching a deal especially if your dealer is offering 0 interest financing and there's a new/updated model coming out in a few months. You do need to be patient though and do your research.
 

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2007 Forester XT
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145 Posts
Twice in the last 7 or 8 years including with our Forester) we've gone in on December 31 an hour or two before closing to buy a car. Both times we got pretty good deals, they were eager to sell one last car before the month/year ended, and they wanted to get out of there to go celebrate New Year's Eve, so we didn't get a lot of runaround about extra stuff we didn't want that they usually try and get us to buy.
 

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Han shot first
07 FXT Ltd 3 pedal
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329 Posts
These types of deals really only apply to people willing to buy what the dealer has in inventory. If you want a specific combination of packages/options, or to order a car to be built to spec, it pays to shop around all the dealers in whatever radius you are willing to pick up in.

Also, knowing how each manufacturer builds their cars is important. A large OEM (eg. Ford) will make any vehicle to order as long as the order banks for that particular model are still open. Advantage: Customer.
A smaller OEM (eg. Subaru), builds vehicles in lots of color/configuration. If you happen to want a particular color/equipment package that may be more rare (2012 Impreza Sport Premium 2 tone blue/silver w/manual transmission), it may only be built in one lot for the entire model year. Advantage: Dealer.

In regards to ANY Subaru, you had best search the country for a car that meets the specs you would have ordered, and negotiate to either go get it or have it sent to your dealer of choice versus ordering it and being told 3 months into the order that they aren't going to build your car and that it won't be available in your configuration the next model year.
 

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2014 forester premium cvt
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27 Posts
I took advantage of the Costco Car Program. I did my homework and to my surprise the Costco deal really was the best. My boss pays for my Costco membership,so it was a win,win for me.
 

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2014 2.5i Limited CVT
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25 Posts
For buying new, I didn't want the pressure of finding something/closing a deal in a particular time frame. I took the opposite approach of NOT being in a hurry to act as leverage. Bought in January and ended up getting great deal by using USAA car buying (it's basically powered by TrueCar - same info) to get ball rolling with participating dealer quotes, and then working with them and other non-participating dealers in my area once I knew exactly what I wanted I could compare their pricing and availability. The USAA/TrueCar pricing gave a great starting point for discussions. If one dealer had bad price but good availability on package I wanted then I just told them upfront the other dealer could get me a better price and I was willing to wait for it. This worked very well and was very low in the BS factor for both me and the dealer. Key was knowing very specifically ahead of time what options/trim I wanted and sticking to that.
 

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2013 Forester Automatic
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409 Posts
The best deals I've ever made were when I didn't HAVE to buy. No pressure on me to just walk away....and walk away I did many times. Also, buying a NEW car is harder to get as good a deal as a used car...but, you should know what to look for to increase the chances your used car is a good deal.
 

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2015 Impreza 5-Door Sport Auto (CVT)
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Why not pay cash for new cars????
If you have 3,4 or 500,000 dollars in the bank then it's no problem to pay cash for a new car under 50K buck.

The majority of people do not have that kind of money sitting in their bank account.

But if you just have enough money saved to buy the vehicle with cash, it's a mistake.

You should get low interest loan either outright, or better yet use the cash you have saved as collateral and get a better rate loan.

Either way you probably can invest the money at higher rate than what the interest rate is on the loan.

Mutual funds are still a pretty safe place to invest money that has a high return rate long term.

Use some of the money as a down payment to get a comfortable monthly payment on the vehicle.

Remember once you give all your money to the dealer for the vehicle, it's gone, and as soon as you drive the vehicle off his lot you already lost about $5000 in depreciation.

You should never pay cash for things that depreciate in value.
 

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2015 Forester CVT
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58 Posts
Remember once you give all your money to the dealer for the vehicle, it's gone, and as soon as you drive the vehicle off his lot you already lost about $5000 in depreciation.

You should never pay cash for things that depreciate in value.
Why?

Regardless of how you pay for your car, it will depreciate the same. If you took a loan, you still have that liability. I.e. once you sign the loan papers, your "money" is gone. Unless you are planning to declare bankruptcy, it's the same.

The only upside for debt financing vs cash payment that I can see is that you are spreading the cost of the long-term asset with debt financing and have some liquidity left as a cushion against uncertainty.

But I agree that, if you can invest your cash at a rate higher than the rate on the loan, you should not pay cash.
 

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2017 Foz 2.5i CVT
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Remember once you give all your money to the dealer for the vehicle, it's gone, and as soon as you drive the vehicle off his lot you already lost about $5000 in depreciation.

You should never pay cash for things that depreciate in value.
So you should not pay cash for food, clothing, and vacations?

If you are buying a $60k Ford Expedition or Chevy Tahoe, you will have "$5k in depreciation" when you drive off the lot.

If you buy cars like my wife's '07 Honda Civic for $17.4k new or my Foz which was $20.4k new, you do NOT lose $5k in depreciation right off the lot. 2 or 3 year old versions of these cars are not even $5k less than a new one, and you will more than get your money's worth if you buy new and keep the car indefinitely. We pay cash and keep 'em for well over 100k--I'm targeting 200k miles on the Civic and the Forester.

Buy used when the brand and model you are buying drops like a rock (for instance, a 1 year old Ford Taurus out of a fleet in 2008 was $12k on a $20k list price). Buy new with cars (like most good MIJ brands) that don't depreciate. And always pay cash if you can. Why would you want to owe more money on a loan than your car is worth? Does it make you feel better about depreciation if you are paying interest on money when you're under water?

George
 

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2014 2.0XT Touring CVT
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If you have 3,4 or 500,000 dollars in the bank then it's no problem to pay cash for a new car under 50K buck.

The majority of people do not have that kind of money sitting in their bank account.

But if you just have enough money saved to buy the vehicle with cash, it's a mistake.

You should get low interest loan either outright, or better yet use the cash you have saved as collateral and get a better rate loan.

Either way you probably can invest the money at higher rate than what the interest rate is on the loan.

Mutual funds are still a pretty safe place to invest money that has a high return rate long term.
Use some of the money as a down payment to get a comfortable monthly payment on the vehicle.

Remember once you give all your money to the dealer for the vehicle, it's gone, and as soon as you drive the vehicle off his lot you already lost about $5000 in depreciation.

You should never pay cash for things that depreciate in value.
Generally true, but oftentimes people have personal financial crises due to major economic downturns and then their mutual funds will probably be in the tank, too. Think of all the people who lost their jobs or businesses in '08-09 and also had paper losses of 50% on their stock based investments.

One good thing about paying cash for major items is that you can freeze your credit and make identity theft more difficult. With both my residences paid for and the household vehicles always bought with cash, I have next to no need for credit in the foreseeable future and just have my credit frozen with all three agencies. I did this 5 years ago when I had reason to believe that sensitive personal info had been compromised and haven't had a reason to unfreeze.
 
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