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The Best Time to Buy a Car

Time your big purchase right.

The best time to buy a new car is quite the hot topic on the boards -- and Nesties are really knowledgeable about the subject! After reading what you had to say, I did some research to compile this list of car-buying tips that will save you time, money, and haggling at the dealership.

End of the model year New car models roll onto lots in September and October, so late August through October are among the best months to buy a new car. Why? You’ll be able to get great deals on last year’s models that dealers are trying to move off the lot to make room for newer models.

End of the calendar year We’ve all seen commercials around the holidays with cars decked out in massive bows. Dealerships usually have promotional sales around the holidays when business is traditionally slow (people rarely buy big-ticket items, like cars, for holiday presents), but this strategy has a flipside. You’re unlikely to get a deal on a four-wheel drive vehicle or an SUV in the winter when dealers know you’ll need one, and dealerships also limit their inventory around the holidays in preparation for this notoriously slow time.

End of the month Dealers have a quota to reach each month, and if you catch them at the end of a month when they haven’t met that quota, you’re likely to walk away with a great deal on the exact car you’ve been eyeing. They’ll give you a discount and make up the difference in their bonus.

Early in the week Weekends are notoriously easy times for dealers to sell cars, but on a random Tuesday morning, a car lot will seem like a ghost town. A salesman eager to reach his quota may cut you a deal.

Rainy days There are conflicting reports about whether or not bad weather equals a good time to buy a car. On the plus side, you’ll be the only customers on the lot. On the other hand, you’ll look pretty desperate to buy as you'll be the only customers who trekked out to the car lot in the pouring rain.

Looking for deep discounts? Buy a car at the end of its design cycle (the automaker is revamping the car and relaunching it under a new name and design scheme) or life cycle (the automaker is discontinuing the car model completely). These may be risky ventures, though, since you’ll have a harder time getting replacement parts if your car breaks down in the future, so be warned.

-- Lauren Le Vine

See More: Buying a Car , Buying Guides