Are you looking for a new ride but are unsure if it’s the best time to buy? Are you hoping to score the perfect deal and walk away happy?  Do you want to avoid going into debt to Volkswagen for the rest of your life? You’ve come to the right place.

Car Bibles’ editors have bought a vast array of new and used cars over the years, and the author specifically has worked as a salesperson in the past, too. Suffice it to say, we know what we’re talking about. So let’s get that checkbook ready and determine when’s the best time to buy a car, both new and used. 

When is the Best Time To Buy a Car?

The best time to buy a car is at the end of the year when a car dealership is looking to offload its current inventory. This is due to the fact that around September-December, dealerships begin getting cars for the upcoming model year. To make room for those new cars, dealerships tend to put enhanced deals on outgoing model-year cars to make room. 

Deals on these cars usually begin around September, but because of the nature of new-car buying, they can even lead into the new year, as not all current model year cars will be sold by January 1st. Thousands of dollars are normally cut from a vehicle’s price tag, and manufacturers are known to offer financing incentives to move everything before the new year rings. 

Salespeople often will be more incentivized to take dollars off at the end of the year to make their yearly quotas, too—which adds another arrow to your quiver. 

What’s The Best Time to Buy a Used Car?

Finding the best time to buy a used car, however, is a little harder to pinpoint. If you’re going with a dealership-sold used car, you’ll want to target the end of the month when salespeople are looking to meet their monthly quotas. 

If you’re trying to find a car sold privately, you’re best off understanding that no real-time of the month is best. It all depends on the deal you’re offered, how hard you haggle, and if you absolutely need a car ASAP. Try to find people who are motivated to sell, like people moving out of state. If it’s a motorcycle, wait until the winter/dead season.

Do your homework before anything, though. 

A hand hands a key over to another hand.
Getting the keys to a new car is one of the greatest feelings ever.

What Should You Look Out For When Buying a Used Car?

To complement our lovely list of things to steer you away from “Dear God! Run, run for your lives!” used car purchases, Car Bibles has put together a handy checklist for buying with confidence. 

  • Service Records

Service records are the car’s history and deliver everything from when it received fluid flushes and changes to what sort of maintenance has been done to the repairs it’s undergone, and generally how it’s been treated over its lifetime. 

If your car comes with detailed records that show it’s been properly maintained, you can safely assume it won’t be a lemon. If there’s a single receipt from a Pep Boys knockoff that’s half-smudged with what appears to be leftover McDonald’s Sweet & Sour sauce, well, you get the idea.

  • CarFax or Evidence of an Accident

Ask whoever is selling the car to produce a CarFax or accident report. This will tell you whether the car has had any major surgery or damage caused by accidents, fender-benders, or Hurricane Sandy. 

  • Rust

If you’re buying in a cold-weather locale where the city liberally salts its roads like french fries, you’re going to want to inspect the car for rust. Rust normally occurs under the car, in the wheel wells, or wherever there’s a crease in the car’s metal. If there are any scratches or dents, there could also be rust forming on or near those sites due to metal exposure.

  • Extreme Wear

Speed demons, racers, wannabe Fast and the Furious stunt professionals, and soccer moms late for Timmy’s practice can all be extremely hard on their Honda Odysseys. Tires go bad, transmissions start slipping, and oil changes are forgotten. Check the car’s suspension by going over speed bumps slowly, shift it through each gear, check tire life with a handy dandy penny, and do a real inspection on your test drive. Take your time, and never let the salesperson rush you. Bring a mechanic, if you can.

What Makes a Reliable Car?

The biggest variable in a reliable car is you, the one with your name on the car’s title and key in hand. Reliability really comes down to following your car’s maintenance schedule, keeping it clean and away from salt, not treating it like a punching bag, and keeping your right foot off the floor as much as possible. 

There are, of course, certain things that a manufacturer can contribute as well, such as proper research and development, good materials, and exacting production methods. Companies such as Toyota and Honda have prioritized these details and offer precise maintenance schedules to keep their cars on the road for longer periods of time.

Car Bible’s Car Buying Glossary

Welcome to Bible school! 

  • Clean Title

A clean title is a title that declares that the vehicle in question has not been involved in an accident. There have been no major repairs, nor incidents that would necessitate denoting it on its title. Simply put, a clean title is a title to a car in good and safe working order.

  • Salvage Title

A salvage title is a type of car title meant to tell a potential buyer that the car has been in a serious accident, saw significant weather-related damage, or has been stolen before. This usually occurs after the car’s value craters due to your insurance claiming it a total loss. 

  • Financing

Financing a car involves you taking out a loan from a bank to purchase a car. You’ll pay interest on the loan. 

  • Leasing

Leasing is a lot like renting a car where you pay a monthly payment and after a predetermined period of time, the car is returned to the dealership.

  • Licensing

A license is a fee prescribed by your state in order to legally drive your car on public roads. 

  • Registration

Registration effectively tells the state that you’re still the legal owner of your vehicle. You have to renew it every year. 

All four generations of the Acura MDX lined up in a row.
The Acura MDX has been a hot seller for years.

Your Questions, Our Answers on Car Buying

Car Bibles’ editors answer all your burning questions!

Q: How Much Mileage Is Good on a Used Car?

A: That depends on a host of variables, and there’s no right or wrong answer. What you do want to do is have your prospective new ride inspected by a reputable and trustworthy mechanic before you slap your cold, hard cash down for it.

Q: Which Cars Last the Longest?

A: The one you take care of. The biggest variable in a car’s longevity is you and how you take care of it. 

Q: Is Mileage More Important Than Age?

A: No. Mileage and age are equally important in determining whether or not a car is going to be a basketcase or not. A short life with heavy mileage may mean it was mostly highway driven, which could mean the car will continue to be reliable. A longer life with minuscule mileage may mean the car was hardly driven and you’ll be replacing hoses, rubber gaskets, and other things as cars are designed to be used and if they aren’t, they begin to fall apart. 

Q: What Are the Best Holidays To Buy a Car On?

A: Holidays near the end of the year are the best holidays to purchase a new car, as mentioned above because car dealers are looking to offload last year’s model to make room for the new one. 

Car Bible’s Favored Car Buying Related Products

You can buy tools for maintaining your new to you used car at almost every auto parts and home improvement store. As well as online stores like Amazon. You have a sea of options to select from. Our favored products include these top Synthetic Oils, as well as these Headlight Bulbs, and Wax.

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