When is the best time to buy a new car?

It’s the question consumers ask most often as they prepare to shop for their next new vehicle: “When is the best time to buy a new car?”

Savvy new-car shoppers know that every 1 percent in possible discounts can be significant — you can save simply by carefully timing when you make your purchase. But the formula to knowing when to buy can be complicated. If you’re shopping for your next car, here are some new-car shopping tips — and a few statistics — to keep in mind to help you determine the best time to buy.

  • Early in the week: There are fewer people on the lot, and you can get the salesperson’s undivided attention. The average savings on Monday is 0.61 percent higher than on Sunday.
  • End of the day: Salespeople are anxious to get home at the end of the day and may not want to spend hours negotiating over a sale.
  • End of the month/end of the quarter: Dealers and salespeople have monthly and quarterly sales goals to meet in order to qualify for certain bonus levels and may have an extra incentive to make another sale. This won’t matter, however, if the salesperson/dealership has already met their quotas (which you have no way of knowing).
  • End of the model year: Manufacturers typically roll out new-model-year vehicles in late summer and fall (but this varies), and dealerships are trying to make room for them, creating a great deal of price flexibility for outgoing models (although your selection may be limited).
  • End of the year: As the new calendar year approaches, dealerships are trying to meet year-end sales quotas that could reduce fees and taxes on year-end inventory, and salespeople are trying to meet year-end quotas that may trigger bigger holiday bonuses.

What about seasonal discounts on specific body styles?

Most body styles are well discounted in December and January. These two months demonstrate the highest discounts available all year for convertibles, coupes, sedans, trucks, sport-utility vehicles and even minivans, averaging discounts of 6.6 percent across all body styles in December and January.

So what’s the answer? When is the best time to buy a new car?

While the statistics can show when you might get the greatest potential discounts, that doesn’t mean you should necessarily wait until then to make your purchase. Remember, as the year wanes, inventories become more limited, so even though great discounts may be available, they may not be on the exact model you are shopping for. So if you have your heart set on something, you should think about whether the potential extra savings are worth perhaps missing out on the vehicle you really want.

See what you can save with AARP Auto Buying Program

*Guaranteed Savings and upfront dealer pricing not available in all states. In these states a “Target Price” is presented, which is not an advertised price, but an example of what you can reasonably expect to pay.