Top 10 Best Times to Buy a Car

By Julie Blackley

Best and Worst Times to Buy a Used Car by Holiday, Month, and Day  

  • December kicks off the season when shoppers are most likely to score a used car deal of at least 5% or $1,100
  • Late fall/early winter months offer more car deals than late spring/early summer
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day is the holiday that offers the greatest chance of used car savings, which provides 39.2% more deals than average
  • July 4th is the holiday that is least likely to provide used car savings with 18.6% fewer deals than average
 

A study by car search engine iSeeCars.com reveals that end of year holidays and the winter months are the best times to find a used car deal.

Analyzing over 32 million used car sales, iSeeCars.com compared specific times of the year including holidays and months of the year, as well as days of the month and week, to calculate whether consumers would be able to find more or fewer deals than average. A deal being defined as savings of five percent or more, which amounts to over $1,100 off the price of the average used car at $22,008.

“The months and holidays toward the end of the year are often touted as a great time to find a used car deal, but it’s the beginning of the year that provides the most deals,” said iSeeCars Executive Analyst Karl Brauer. “Conversely, the summer and early fall months are the least likely to bring used car deals for consumers.”

Best Times to Buy a Used Car

iSeeCars looked at the times of the year when consumers are most likely to find a used car deal with savings of at least 5% or $1,100.
Top 10 Best Times to Buy a Used Car - iSeeCars Study
Rank Time of Year % More Deals than Average
1 Martin Luther King Jr. Day 39.2%
2 January 28.7%
3 February 22.1%
4 New Year's Eve/New Year's Day 20.5%
5 Christmas Eve 18.1%
6 December 13.0%
7 March 12.6%
8 Veterans Day 11.9%
9 November 6.2%
10 Thanksgiving/Black Friday 2.7%
The day of the year that offers the most opportunity for savings is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which offers 39.2 percent more deals than the average day. It’s followed by the month of January, February, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, and Christmas Eve. 

“While the end-of-year holidays are often touted as a great time for savings, the beginning of the year actually provides more opportunity for used car savings,” said Brauer. “This is likely because a glut of trade-ins don't hit the marketplace until after the holiday season."

Worst Times to Buy a Used Car

iSeeCars also analyzed the times of the year when shoppers are least likely to find a used car deal with savings of 5% or more.
Top 10 Worst Times to Buy a Used Car - iSeeCars Study
Rank Time of Year % Fewer Deals than Average
1 July 4th 18.6%
2 June 16.9%
3 July 16.2%
4 Father’s Day 15.5%
5 September 15.0%
6 Memorial Day 14.7%
7 August 14.7%
8 May 14.7%
9 Mother’s Day 10.9%
10 October 5.5%
The Fourth of July is the holiday that is the least likely to have deals providing 18.6 percent less deals than the average used car shopping day. 

The remainder of the worst holidays for car deals occur in late spring through early fall. “New car shoppers are likely holding out for the next model year vehicles, which come out in late summer and early fall,” said Brauer. “As a result, they aren’t trading in their used cars so inventory is lower than normal.”

Best Holidays to Buy a Used Car

Holidays are often considered to be an opportunity to find used car deals, and some holidays are more likely to provide significant deals compared to others.
5 Best Holidays to Buy a Used Car - iSeeCars Study
Rank Time of Year % More Deals than Average
1 Martin Luther King Jr. Day 39.2%
2 New Year's Eve/New Year's Day 20.5%
3 Christmas Eve 18.1%
4 Veterans Day 11.9%
5 Thanksgiving/Black Friday 2.7%
The holiday that offers the greatest savings is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which offers 39.2 percent more deals than average. "While Martin Luther King Day isn’t typically thought of as a major retail holiday, dealers tend to make a big push to boost sales in early winter by offering bigger deals and this holiday is a great reason for them to pump up their promotions — especially as it is observed on a Monday, which means shoppers have a long holiday weekend to find the car they want to purchase," said Brauer.

Overall, the best holidays for used car buying are those surrounding federal and retail holidays, all clustered in the late fall, beginning with Veteran’s Day and going through the winter months. "The best days to buy a car fall at the beginning of the year after new models have been introduced by automakers," said Brauer. “This is a popular time for new vehicle buyers who want to take advantage of generous incentives and rebates on outgoing model-year vehicles, and as a result, there's a high supply of used cars that dealers need to get rid of." 

Worst Holidays to Buy a Car

iSeeCars found that the Fourth of July is the holiday with the least amount of car deals. Here are the worst holidays to buy a car based on the number of available car deals
5 Worst Holidays to Buy a Used Car - iSeeCars Study
Rank Time of Year % Fewer Deals than Average
1 July 4th 18.6%
2 Father’s Day 15.5%
3 Memorial Day 14.7%
4 Mother’s Day 10.9%
5 Halloween 4.0%
 

The Fourth of July is the holiday with the least amount of used car deals, with 18.6 percent fewer deals than average. The holidays that are in closest proximity to the Fourth of July, Father’s Day and Memorial Day, are also among the worst holidays to make a used car purchase. “These holidays occur in the late spring and summer months, which prove to be among the worst times to find a deal.” said Brauer. "This is the typical time of the year when dealers see higher demand as weather gets nicer, and there is less of a need to drive sales through lower pricing.”  

Best and Worst Months to Buy a Car

November is the best month to buy a car with 26.9 percent more deals than average. 
Best and Worst Months to Buy a Used Car - iSeeCars Study
Rank Time of Year % Deals Compared to Average
1 January 28.7%
2 February 22.1%
3 December 13.0%
4 March 12.6%
5 November 6.2%
6 April -0.9%
7 October -5.5%
8 May -14.7%
9 August -14.7%
10 September -15.0%
11 July -16.2%
12 June -16.9%
 With so many late fall and winter holidays offering the best chances for lower car prices, the same months prove to be the best time of the year to get a deal on a used car

January ranks first overall with a 28.7 percent more deals than average, followed by February (22.1 percent), December (13.0 percent), March (12.6 percent), and November (6.2 percent) "There is more inventory at this time because it aligns with the most popular time to buy a new car due to dealers wanting to get rid of outgoing model year vehicles to make room for new model year inventory,” said Brauer. “Additionally, there isn’t as much foot traffic in dealerships in the beginning of the year compared to months with milder weather, so dealers are more competitive with their pricing to drive up demand.” 

Best Day to Buy a Car: Weekday or Weekend?

iSeeCars analyzed weekdays and weekend days to see which provided the best price for used car deals.. 
Weekday Vs. Weekend - Which is a Better Time to Buy a Used Car?
Weekday: Monday through Thursday 0.2% More Deals
Weekend: Friday through Sunday 0.3% Fewer Deals
Visiting dealerships and showrooms on weekdays generally provides more deals and lower prices than weekends. “This is because foot traffic is lower on the weekdays, and therefore dealers discount more cars to drive demand,” said Brauer. While the iSeeCars.com study shows that weekdays are indeed better than weekends for car buying, they are not much better. Weekdays have only 0.2% more deals than average while weekends offer just 0.3% fewer deals.

Car buyers who are planning on buying a used vehicle during the holiday season will still be able to find deals, despite the current inventory shortages,” said Brauer. “However, waiting until the beginning of the year will likely provide more significant savings at car dealerships as used car inventory becomes more stable.”

Methodology

iSeeCars.com analyzed over 32 million used car sales from 2018 and 2019. Deals were identified based on whether the car was listed at five percent or more below market value. The total number of listings and number of deals were aggregated nationally at several timescales: by month, day of the month, and day of the week. In addition, the data were also aggregated for specific holidays. At each aggregated timescale, the number of deals were divided by the number of cars sold, resulting in a probability of finding a deal. These resulting probabilities were expressed as a percentage difference from the overall probability of finding an automotive deal on an average day (26.1 percent). 

About iSeeCars.com

iSeeCars.com is a car search engine that helps shoppers find the best car deals by providing key insights and valuable resources, like the iSeeCars VIN check reports. iSeeCars.com has saved users over $265 million so far by applying big data analytics powered by over 25 billion (and growing) data points and using proprietary algorithms to objectively analyze, score and rank millions of cars.