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Are Year-End Savings a Myth When Buying a Car?

by Agnieszka Fratczak,  Nov 11 2020

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You may have heard buying a car at the end of the year will net you the best deal, but will it? While car dealers — and manufacturers — may offer big year-end incentives, that may not mean you’ll always get the best deal after the holidays. And with COVID-19 changing the way we buy our cars, there is even more to consider this year. Here’s what you need to know: 

Why Buying a Car at the End of the Year May Be Cheaper

According to cars.com, December tends to be the month when you can count on paying less for a vehicle due to the fact that salespeople operate on monthly, quarterly, and yearly targets they need to meet in order to get an additional bonus. As a result, price incentives are bigger in the last months of the year to encourage vehicle purchases and reach the sales goal. 

What’s more, there are improved models being launched each year – technological advances are rapid and constantly changing which means brand new, upgraded inventory. Some manufacturers may want to introduce new models at the beginning of the year and outgoing ones may not match them. For dealers, it is more reasonable to get rid of last year’s supply from their lot in order to provide the most up to date vehicles. It may not result in huge savings, but still, the price would be less hard on your budget. However, you must remember that while waiting until the last moment your choice can be truncated – you may have fewer options and can be forced to purchase a car you don’t like that much (in case your old vehicle broke down and you need the new one asap but was putting it off until December). 

What is the best day to buy a car?

This trend may even extend to the beginning of January (usually the first, or the first two days) – it depends with what day the year ends. According to cars.com, during that last, truncated week of the 2018 selling calendar — Dec. 31 through Jan. 2 — incentive spending averaged $4,529 per car sold, by J.D. Power’s accounting. That’s nearly $200 higher than the second-highest week of the year, Dec. 17-23. The week between them, including Christmas, ranked fourth.

“The highest [incentive] spend weeks are often in December,” Chris Li, a senior director at J.D. Power, wrote in an email. “And the final weekend is typically the highest single period.”

Is it really reasonable to wait until the end of the year?

While you may get a great deal in December, car shopping is a very complex and tough decision which needs to be handled with good care and consideration. You may get stressed out at the end of the year with many other matters in your life (Christmas shopping, year-end deadlines, etc.) and end up not so satisfied with your new vehicle, bought on the spur of the moment. Pandemic has affected the automotive market and shaped the new kind of car shopping experience at a rapid pace – people tend to go online more often instead of browsing dealers’ lots in person. Many car companies want to be up to date so they shift their focus to online sales and home delivery options. It may be a bit risky so you need to decide yourself if it’s worth the possible savings or if your nerves are strong enough.

What’s more, you have to plan other expenses inextricably linked to purchasing a vehicle – e.g. car insurance. Will you have enough funds at the end of the year to purchase satisfactory coverage? We know that it may cause a headache – especially during the pandemic – with so many insurers on the market, so let us help you! Sign up here and get a free rate comparison across top US providers. We’ll do our best to find the most affordable option for you.

Everything depends on the situation you’re currently in – if you’re good at making quick decisions or suddenly find previously selected vehicle at a discounted price, buying a car at the end of the year will help you save some money to spend on New Year’s Eve champagne or Christmas gifts. But you must be prepared in advance – start looking at cars’ prices earlier, research the market and monitor the best deals. It’s better to plan as much as possible (even if at a discounted price, cars still cost quite a lot) to avoid unsatisfactory purchase. Savings on a car that doesn’t meet your requirements wouldn’t satisfy you either.

Hopefully this article will help you decide if postponing car shopping until December is a good option for you. If you have more questions, feel free to email us at advisors@gabi.com – we’ll be happy to help!

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Editorial content on Gabi.com is not written by a licensed insurance agent. It is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal or financial advice.

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