Picking the best time to buy a car

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Buying a car is a big investment, and many people will spend a lot of time researching the ideal make and model for their needs before making a decision. Once you've found the perfect car, what's the best time to buy?

Whether you're buying a new or used car, understanding the trends of car sales can help you to bag a bargain. Buying a car can be a long and frustrating process involving lots of searching, comparing and going back and forth with dealers. We've picked out the best times of the week, month and year that you're most likely to get a good deal on a new or used car.

Whether you're buying a new or used car, understanding the trends of car sales can help you to bag a bargain.

End of financial year

June is the time of year when inboxes, TV screens and newspapers are flooded with sales for everything from clothing to whitegoods. The end of financial year is one of the best times to buy a car, as dealerships attempt to attract customers through incentives like low interest on finance, price-slashing and free servicingi. Although there are some great deals to be found around June, the EOFY is hardly a secret and you will be competing with many other potential buyers to scoop up a bargain. Luckily, there are other times of the year when you can save on a new or used car purchase.

Grab a Christmas bargain

The period leading up to Christmas tends to see retailers and distributors try and maximise profits, taking advantage of the peak spending period in Australia and the gift-giving deadline. However, November and December can be a great time to purchase a car, with dealers preparing to clear as much current-year stock as possibleii. You might also find that there are less people shopping around for cars, with people focussed on spending on gifts, festive celebrations and travel over Christmas and New Year. Cars with the previous year's build plate can also be difficult for dealers to sell in the New Year: dealers may be more likely to negotiate the price with you or perhaps even throw in a few bonus extrasii.

New Year, new car

If you miss out on a great deal over Christmas, February and March can also be a good time to save money on last year's models. March is ordinarily the second-biggest month of the year for car sales after the EOFY periodiii, so hit the showrooms and barter with the sales team while they are focussed on breaking deals to make room for the incoming year's stock.

Settle for less to save more

If you have your heart set on a particular make and model of car, stay up-to-date with news of any new models that may be released soon. While other buyers will be rushing to snap up the latest, improved model, you will be able to take advantage of model run-out sales as dealers begin clearing old stock and marketing the newest model. If you're not fussed about owning the latest model with enticing new features, you could save yourself a small fortune by settling for a superseded model that the dealer already has in stockii.

If you're not fussed about buying the latest model car, you could save yourself a small fortune by settling for a superseded model.

It's all about timing

While every dealership is different, there are certain times of the week when car shopping can yield better results for buyers. Saturdays and Sundays are a popular time for car buyers to go shopping, with dealerships likely to be buzzing with activity. You might find that salespeople are more willing to give you a better deal as it will help the dealership with weekend sales resultsii.

Similarly, near the end of the month or end of the quarter might be an ideal time to go car hunting. As with many industries, sales targets for dealers will often be set on a monthly and quarterly basis. To reach targets a dealer might go the extra mile to finalise a sale by cutting you a great deal or perhaps offering you some incentivesii.

Although there's no guaranteeing that you'll save money by following these tips, being aware of the seasonal patterns of car sales can help you decide the best time to buy your next car.

iMcCowen, D, 'Car makers chase end of financial year sales', Drive.com.au, viewed 6 June 2014,

iiMotoring.com.au, 'Perfect timing: picking the best time to buy', viewed 6 June 2014,

iiiDowling, J, 'This week a good time to buy a car', Carsguide, viewed 6 June 2014,