I need a new vehicle. My 2007 is starting to make funny noises and I want a different model (4 wheel SUV).
1. Is there a best time to buy a new model, e.g., before December 31, after January 1, new model comes out, etc.?
2. Is there a best time/way to buy a used car? For example, Hertz has a used car division that sell about 2 year old cars.
3. Any bad experiences with buying through, e.g., CarMax, Cargurus, etc.
#2 - I don't think you'd want to buy any rental car after I've driven I - I sort of always look at my rental cars as "see if you can break it" and "what's the max G and acceleration this can handle".
I wonder what it feels like to take a speed bump at 60 MPH - lets find out!
Can you actually get air while driving this?
#2 -- I don't think I'd buy a used rental or fleet car. Buying used cars when they come off of a personal lease, though, is another matter. You can find some nice deals on cars that have been driven relatively lightly.
Wrote about the topic here: https://www.financialsamurai.com/the-best-time-of-the-year-to-buy-a-car/
* Tax Season. Ask any small business owner who is not in the tax business and they will tell you that business always sees a cyclical slowdown in April. The reason being that plenty of people owe taxes by April 15. I personally owed a surprising five figure tax bill due to a retroactive law that raised taxes by 3% for those who make more than a certain amount in California. As a result, I didn't spend money on anything other than necessities in March and April. (See: What Happens If I Don't Pay My Taxes?) From my position as an online publisher, I see an increase in search traffic related to saving money and reducing taxes as opposed to search results relating to making more money, buying stuff, and going on vacations. Time period: March, April.
* Memorial Day Weekend. Memorial Day is the traditional start of Summer. After researching car incentives for over 10 years, Memorial Day Weekend, and the following 30 days, is the absolute best time to buy a car. One of the key reasons is that auto dealerships need to clear inventory for next year's models which come out in the Fall. For example, the 2014 BMW 335i Coupe will come out in August 2013. This launch cycle is consistent with practically every major auto manufacture in existence. Memorial Day Weekend will also have brand new left over inventory from the previous year. These are often the best deals because you not only get a new car, you get a huge discount, and a warranty that starts at the time of purchase and not the time of manufacture. For example, I found a 2012 BMW 335i Coupe for $11,500 off to $44,700. Time period: End of May and the month of June.
* Labor Day Weekend. Labor Day Weekend marks the end of Summer and the beginning of Fall. Vacation is over and its back to the salt mines baby! A lot of people blow plenty of money during the Summer and the last thing on their mind is to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a new vehicle. Besides, folks who were looking for a new vehicle probably bought one just three to four months earlier during Memorial Day Weekend. However, because the following year's models are now out in the Fall, current year models start looking very dated. Any left over current year models will be heavily discounted. Unfortunately, you will also be tempted by the new models! Time period: End of August, early September.
* End Of Year. There are always going to be end of year holiday sales. The best day of the year is probably the day before and the day after New Years where one day makes a car one year older or one year newer. Blue Book values plunge the first day of the New Year for example. Your new 2013 car come January 1, 2014 just doesn't sound as new as on December 31, 2013. Time period: End of December.
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I like CarMax for shopping but not buying. I am a car guy, have travelled to Detroit for their auto show. My wife is not a car person and a it was really helpful to go to CarMax and see different makes of cars side by side. Compacts over here, SUVs over there. The CarMax prices were appallingly high. Same car, at a dealer with a certified pre owned warranty was cheaper than CarMax.
Consider whether you really want a used car. Historically used cars were a smart buy, but currently used car prices have gone up so much. There are cars where the 2016 used price and a 2018 new price made no sense with the new car being priced the same as used.
Research and figure out what you need. Cross shop buying vs leasing. Negotiate the price before you arrive. Know what the manufacturer offers are and know what the lease inputs (incentives, fees, residual and finance rate/money factor).
With most of retail being amazon'd, car dealers survive as there are too many people who can't do the math on payments (or can't figure out how to download an app or go to the manufacturer website). Salesperson tries to get you to focus on a monthly payment and marks up either the finance rate or screws you on the value of your trade-in.
There is no best time of year to buy, and with short term rates rising, everything financed (including leases) got more expensive. From an outright cash price, now through the end of the year is a great time to buy the remaining 2018s. Selection is more limited and you may need to go further to find what you want. The flip side is you can argue the discount is the depreciation priced in (relevant if you sell in 3 years, less relevant if you sell in 10 years). Also remaining 18s may have more options than you need (like factory navigation for $1000 for cars with Android auto/apple carplay) where you may save on price but overpay for unneeded frills.
If you want a cheap and reliable car, I think a Hyundai is the way to go.
I've bought plenty of new cars, used cars and leasing.
In Michigan, there are always "deals" but be careful with the empty promises. Usually the "cheaper" lease specials are $3k down, 800+ credit score and financed with the manufacturer. I've had instances where a $180 a month 24 month lease ended up being a $310 with 4K down for Ford Fusion because they don't have the car that they advertised. Classic bait and switch. If they have a car on the lot, chances are if you lease, they'll low ball the trade and add up to 2% on interest rate. They don't like when you bring your own financing from a credit union.
If they "accept" the fact you have your own financing, they'll get you on the "extended warranty" that covers nothing, or low ball the trade even more.
My thoughts, go thru your credit union for best rate. Sell your car on Craigslist. If you're underwater on the trade that's tricky. For this, best case would be tell the dealer you already have financing, you would only take the new car if they take your trade for X amount. If they don't want to, move on.
I found usually the last 3 days of the month are the best time, and when a model is going they major changes.
Never let your guard down until you drive off the lot.
I have rarely had positive experiences at dealerships.
I will write a summary of some of the tricks and sneaky stuff I've experienced with dealerships...
If you are buying new the time to look is at the end of the month. The dealers basically get their cars from the manufacturer for zero percent interest for I believe 30 days. They then start paying interest every month on the cars. The longer it sits the more they pay. So they are quicker to make a deal at the end of the month.
However buying new I think is a waste of money. The depreciation on new vehicles is crazy.
My family always preached the idea that buying a used car was buying someone else's problems. Sort of stuck with me, and old habits are hard to break. I always buy new, but then I bought my current car in 2006 and have had it worry free for over 12 years now. Not to mention, it's been paid in full since 2011, so I feel like I got my money out of it and then some at this point.
I go for mid-tier, never luxury. Pops always said you can do much better aftermarket than anything the dealership will do for you, and he was right. Found quality local folks to put in custom leather interior for a fraction of a luxury package upgrade, and used way better leather too. After market exhaust and performance tweaks done by friends of the family and good mechanics, and stereo and sound system upgrades normally done by me, as I was the music and engineering nerd.
At the end of the day, I spend in the $30K range for a car, get something to last, and not really worry about it to much. Being in LA, you live in your car a lot of the time, so I want something nice, comfortable, and fun, but I won't spend much more than that to get it. I will admit, that's harder to satisfy in 2018 than it was in 2006, but... TBH I'm still very happy with my current car (2006 Saab 92X Aero, for those wondering). I will say it helps that we're a GM family, and have GM engineers related that we can tap for family discounts, so normally I get a nice shaving off the sticker price without haggling, as well. That being said, pop also taught me to haggle a mean price ;)