I can't remember the first time I heard the phrase "timing is everything," but I’ve never forgotten it. Over the years, I’ve also learned just how critical timing is when making a major purchase—such as a car! In this post, you’ll learn about the best times and days to make an offer on a new or used car so that you can save some major cash!

Never buy during this time

First things first, if there’s one thing auto experts agree on, it’s this: avoid buying a new or used car in late spring or early summer.

The reason for this is simple: tax refunds are flowing in, and pretty weather means more folks are out on the dealership lots browsing through new car models. Dealers are selling more cars and have less incentive to haggle to win a "hard sell" customer.

The best time of year to shop

The best time of year to shop can vary depending on whether you’re buying a new or used car.

Buying a new car: The new car market is more sensitive to sales cycles because at certain times of year dealerships are eagerly clearing older models off the lot to make way for the new. If you’re shopping for a new car, this makes late winter and early in the new year the best time to shop. Dealerships will have strong incentive to work with you to meet your budget requirements and offer special deals and incentives to keep sales strong through the critical holidays and lot-clearing late winter months.

Buying a used car: If you want to get a great deal on last year's model, shop right at the end of the year, or in late summer or early fall (depending on the sales cycle for the vehicle you want). This is when dealerships are most desperate to clear their lots of last year's cars to make way for incoming inventory.

Best days of the week to shop

Experts agree—the best days of the week are early in the week. Dealership lots will be slower after the weekend crush, and salespeople will be more attentive and more eager to make deals.

It’s also best if you can shop near the end of a month, or (even better) near the end of a sales quarter (every three months), you’ll likely find salespeople much more motivated to meet your price.

Best time of day to make your offer

Using similar psychology, the best time of day to make an offer on a new or used car is going to be late in the day (near closing time).

This is when salespeople are most eager to see a "payoff" from a day of hard work, and they’re also eager to go home (meaning they may be more amenable to offer a quick "yes" instead of going through a lengthy negotiation).

The payoff

Experts agree: the payoff from shopping at the right days and times, and by tendering your offer at the right moment, can mean that you saved hundreds or even thousands of dollars on the sticker price of the car you want!

Car Buying 101: The Best Time to Buy a New or Used Car