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Christopher Mitchell
Christopher Mitchell

Cheapest Time To Buy A Used Car

In terms of the best time of the year, October, November and December are safe bets. Car dealerships have sales quotas, which typically break down into yearly, quarterly and monthly sales goals. All three goals begin to come together late in the year.

cheapest time to buy a used car

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The J.D. Power predicts average transaction prices to reach $45,971 in the third quarter of 2022, which will be a 10.3 percent increase from the same time last year. A higher demand and a lower supply are contributing to this price increase.

As dealers try to make back lost profits, prices will likely remain high. In October 2022, Kelley Blue Book found that shoppers in the non-luxury segment paid on average $690 above sticker price. These prices continue to climb for both new and used cars, according to Experian.

If you are looking to buy a new or used car, this lean inventory and competitive market will likely mean that you will pay a higher base price and receive fewer discounts until the shortage is resolved.

As the old adage goes, buying a used car will save you money. Budget-conscious shoppers are traditionally advised to choose a reliable used vehicle to avoid the higher price and initial depreciation on a new car. But over the last year and a half, nothing about the used-car market has been traditional. The inventory shortage, which began in 2021 and has dragged into 2022, initially impacted new vehicles, but skyrocketing demand and pricing soon followed for used cars.

Before the inventory shortage, buying a used vehicle allowed shoppers to pay less for the same vehicle versus when it was new; it also let them bypass new-car depreciation, traditionally estimated at 20% as soon as you drove the car off the lot. But such savings are no longer guaranteed today. Based on a price analysis of used-vehicle inventory among dealers, median used-vehicle prices started their ascent in January 2021, and after a steady upward trajectory, they reached a peak of around $25,500 in February 2022. Since then, prices have remained elevated compared to previous years but have seen a modest dip in recent months: The median price for all used models was approximately $24,000 in July.

Before any COVID-19-related disruptions, the median price for a used vehicle among dealers in July 2019 was approximately $17,500. By July 2022, that median price jumped 37%. In the same span, the savings when buying used instead of new also evaporated: In July 2019, the median price for a used vehicle of any model year was 49% that of a new vehicle. Fast forward three years, and the median price of a used vehicle is now 61% that of a new vehicle.

The state of new-vehicle production and inventory impacts how long used-car prices will remain elevated. Paris expects inventory constraints to drag on through 2022, but he said production should begin recovering toward the end of the year.

Although used-vehicle prices are up across the board, the rate of increase varies by vehicle age and type. data indicates that older used cars have seen the largest spike, while newer models have seen a more modest increase.

According to an Automotive News report from December 2021, consulting firm KPMG predicts a dramatic dip in used-vehicle prices will precede the stabilization of new-vehicle inventory. The firm reportedly expects used-car prices to drop 20%-30% sometime in the months after October 2022. While the expected drop will spell relief for shoppers who wait to buy a used car, it can be detrimental to those who financed a vehicle amid the currently inflated prices and need to trade it in.

You can use the Parkers New Cars for Sale to search your local area for cars, while our Used Cars for Sale section lets you browse used cars for sale in the UK. Our Car Valuation tool will show you what kind of price you should be able to negotiate on all models.

A brand new car will be costly, irrespective of discounts and special offers. The alternative is to go for a used car, which will surely prove to be less expensive. However, you should always look at how much an investment will yield in the long run, instead of focusing on the short-term benefits.

Car salespeople and dealerships have sales quotas they have to hit each month, quarter, and calendar year. These sales goals are often made in an effort to achieve their best month yet. As their compensation is often tied to meeting or exceeding a goal (unlike non-commission sales at DriveNation) salespeople are likely to work harder to make the sale. Buying a used car toward the end of those periods is an excellent way to get a deal. In fact, the end of the year is a great time to purchase. You could get a lower price on the car, a better deal on the car loan, and some extras, like an extended warranty. In the week or so after the last day of the month, quarter, or year, there are likely to be more used cars from trade-ins and lease returns in dealership lots. The best days to try and buy is between the big rush on new vehicles and the time dealers send their excess stock to the auction.

Whenever there are people buying new cars in and around the area you reside in, the supply of used vehicles is bound to go up. This is all the more true during auto show season when dealers and manufacturers promote new cars and people trade-in or sell their old ones. The ripple effect of auto shows often lasts for several weekends, as buyers visit dealers for test drives, buying vehicles they saw on the auto show floor, and trading in their current vehicles.

When automakers launch new or redesigned models, a spike in sales of those new cars is generally the trend. But it often coincides with many of the previous-generation models coming back off lease or being traded in for the new model. To put it in a nutshell, if you purchase a used version of a recently redesigned model, you might be able to save a considerable amount of money. Since many buyers seek the latest and greatest technology, car prices for outgoing models naturally take a dip when new models arrive in the market, and rates for your auto loan may follow suit.

The last quarter of the year is peak buying season for new cars. Many of those new cars are bought by folks who trade in their cars to the dealer. Those trade-ins become used car deals available to you that the dealer wants to get rid of to make room for new models from the upcoming model year.

Not only do you get good prices on used cars toward the end of the year, but you also get a great selection. These opportunities exist because of the influx of trade-ins dealerships often see toward the end of the year from drivers buying new cars and trading in their old ones. If you want the savings that come with a used car purchase and a wide variety, waiting toward the end of the year creates another advantage when shopping for a used car.

Because of the pandemic, vehicle production has been affected worldwide. The pandemic caused factory closures, limited staffing and a shortage of semiconductor chips that are necessary in modern vehicles. This caused U.S. dealer inventories to fall to historic lows throughout 2021 while new car transaction prices soared past MSRPs.

Car prices drop toward the end of the year because auto salespeople are in hyperdrive to push inventory out before the new year and meet their sales quotas so they can earn hefty cash bonuses. To earn their target incentive pay, the staff must meet sales goals during a set time frame, which could be toward the end of the month or the year.

The best time to buy a car has several answers. Your best bet is to buy between October and January 1. December is particularly ripe for deals, discounts, rebates and other incentives. This is because car salespeople are aggressively working to meet their monthly, quarterly and yearly quotas.

The final days of the year are the 10th-best time of year to buy a car, according to data from, which found that 21.3 percent of used-car sales deals are better than average around Dec. 31.

Black Friday isn't only one of the best days of the year for shopping, but is also the best day of year to buy a used car, according to Used-car deals on the day after Thanksgiving are 33.1 percent better than average on that day, according to the site.

Memorial Day is a day for honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country while serving in the armed forces. It isn't, however, for buying used cars, according to, with 18.3 percent fewer deals than an average day, according to

Given the current economic condition, the annual new vehicle sales rate should be over 17 million units. So far in 2022, it has been around a 15 million unit rate. Thus, we see the upward new vehicle price pressure. The used vehicle market is slightly different. Annual used car/truck sales have hovered around 40 million for a decade. In 2021, 39 million units were sold. New car markets have more institutional restraints on prices than does the used car market. Thus, used car price indices increased by approximately 40% in 2021, four times that of new vehicle prices.

Our recommendations are based on a combination of peer-reviewed research and opinions from experts in the field. We spoke with experts at car-shopping sites Autotrader, Edmunds and Cox Automotive about the best time to buy a car, how to negotiate the purchase price and other car-buying tips. We also scoured online articles and reviews to find out how to time your car purchase to score the best deal.

Selection takes some thought. A small sports car might work for a single person or couple, but not if they're planning on starting a family. A large SUV might be great for camping and road-tripping with friends, but isn't likely to be much fun when it comes time to fuel up, pay for insurance, or find street parking.

The Covid pandemic has muted depreciation, however, and prices for used cars are growing faster than for new. As the price gap narrows, buying new becomes more appealing because the vehicles are in better condition, plus, they have a full warranty and can be financed at a lower rate. 041b061a72


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