Interested in buying a used car, but not sure when or where to begin? Don’t worry—the strategies and tips we’ve outlined here can help you start off on the right path at the right time.
Start shopping strategically
It’s always good to shop around before making a big purchase like a car. We recommend you begin looking into possible vehicles in the fall.
Why the fall? Car manufacturers start coming out with the following year’s models in October and November, so you’ll likely see newer used cars listed for a deeper discount. Not only that, but car salespeople typically have yearly sales goals to hit, so if you buy a used car toward the end of the year, that additional leverage can help you save money.
Try not to buy in the spring
When the weather gets a little warmer, many people who weren’t willing to stand out in the cold to look for a car in January are suddenly in the market for one. Sunny spring weather also sparks daydreams of cruising down the road with your windows down. If you’re willing to brave some chillier temperatures earlier in the year, you may be able to get deals from dealerships trying to make sales in the slower winter months.
Visit the dealership early in the week
Used car lots and dealerships are typically less busy on Mondays and Tuesdays, so this is a good time to go and ask the salespeople any questions you may have about their inventory.
Make the trip when the sun is out
Look for a nice, sunny day to start your search. When the sun is out, you can see everything about a car more clearly—which makes it easier for you to spot any imperfections on the body or interior of the car. When it’s rainy or cloudy, scratches and tiny dents are tougher to see.
Look for holiday deals
Auto dealers often plan big promotions for big holiday weekends. Make sure you check out all possible discounts on these holidays:
Start looking before you actually need a new car
If your current car is starting to get older, do a little research to see what you might need and want in your upgrade—even if you’re hoping to wait a few years before actually putting pen to paper. If you see something you want, it can give you leverage in negotiations if you can easily walk away. Compare it to the reverse situation: If you absolutely need a car now, you’re more apt to take a deal you’re not completely happy with. You can also line up your finances better if you take the time to do so earlier. It’s better to be prepared than caught off guard!