The Best Month to Buy a Used Car

The old adage, “Timing is everything” could not be more true when it comes to buying a used car.

Vehicle search engine recently released a report that shows the best and worst times to make that kind of purchase.

The website analyzed more than 32 million used car sales and compared specific times throughout the year including certain holidays, months and days of the week.

What’s the Best Time to Buy a Used Car?

For the purposes of this study, defines a “deal” as “savings of 5% or more off average used car prices. 
Here are some key findings from the report:

  • The winter months and holidays are the best times to find a deal on a used car.
  • With nearly 40% more deals than average, Martin Luther King Jr. Day offers the best chance to save on a used car.
  • The Fourth of July has nearly 20% fewer deals than average and is the least likely holiday for used car bargains.
If you’re thinking about getting a vehicle and can’t choose whether to buy new or used, here’s some advice from money expert Clark Howard.

"Because the average used vehicle is about $17,000, which is less than half the price of a new vehicle, without a doubt, I want you to go with a used vehicle — not new," he says.

Let’s look at iSeeCars’ rating of each month of the year in terms of snagging a deal on a used car.

Best Months to Buy a Used Car

Rank Time of Year % More Deals Than Average
1. January 28.7%
2. February 22.1%
3. December 13.0%
4. March 12.6%
5. November 6.2%
6. April -0.9%
7. October -5.5%
8. May -14.7%
9. August -14.7%
10. September -15.0%
11. July -16.2%
12. June -16.9%

See the complete iSeeCars report.

iSeeCars Executive Analyst Karl Brauer says dealers offer better prices in hopes of drawing in car shoppers during the slower months.

“There isn’t as much foot traffic in dealerships in the beginning of the year compared to months with milder weather, so dealers are more competitive with their pricing to drive up demand,” Brauer says.

Here are some Clark-approved savings strategies you can employ any time of the year when you’re shopping for a new vehicle.

Comparison Shop

Always compare prices across different types of dealers to get the best deals, Clark says. You can do this pretty easily online, although you may opt to visit dealers near you.
Pro tip: Visit car dealerships at night for a contact-free look or to avoid a zealous sales pitch from an associate.

Don’t Be Afraid of a High-Mileage Vehicle

“Because cars are made so well today, the bar that used to be at 100,000 is now at 200,000 miles,” Clark says.

Get the Car Checked Out Independently Before Purchase

Because you want to protect yourself, make sure you get a mechanic to examine the vehicle before you buy it. That way, you can be sure to find out any mechanical problems that may not have been disclosed.

"Buying a used car involves a little more risk than buying a new car because you never know how the previous owner treated that vehicle," Clark says.

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