The Worst Day of the Year to Buy a Used Car

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Unhappy driver

Shopping for a used car? You’re in luck — December kicks off a period of several months that is the best time to get a deal on a new set of wheels.

But whatever you do, avoid shopping on July 4.

Those are among the findings of a new study by car search engine iSeeCars that looked at more than 32 million used car sales.

The study found that the best time to get a bargain — defined as at least 5%, or $1,100, less than the price of the average used car ($22,008) — is in the winter months. According to Karl Brauer, iSeeCars executive analyst:

“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.”

However, by summer and early fall, the deals become much scarcer. In fact, iSeeCars says the nation’s birthday — July 4 — is the single worst day of the year for scoring a deal, with 18.6% fewer bargains compared to the average.

Brauer explains why summer and fall are so bad for scoring deals:

“New car shoppers are likely holding out for the next model year vehicles, which come out in late summer and early fall. As a result, they aren’t trading in their used cars so inventory is lower than normal.”

The five best times for getting a used car deal are:

  1. Martin Luther King Jr. Day (the third Monday in January): 39.2% more deals than average
  2. January: 28.7%
  3. February: 22.1%
  4. New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day: 20.5%
  5. Christmas Eve: 18.1%

Conversely, the worst periods for getting a used car deal are:

  1. July 4: 18.6% fewer deals than average
  2. June: 16.9%
  3. July: 16.2%
  4. Father’s Day (the third Sunday in June): 15.5%
  5. September: 15%

Getting a deal on a used car

Choosing the right day to shop can save you big money when buying a car. But you can add to those savings by selecting the right place to buy as well. For more, check out “This Is the Cheapest Place to Buy a Used Car.”

Buying used is almost always a better financial decision than plunking down extra cash on a brand-new car. But you still need to do your homework to get a great deal.

For example, you can often save a ton of money simply for securing financing before you get to the car lot. As we have reported:

“Dealers offer financing, but you can often save hundreds of dollars by seeking out financing yourself. Shopping around for car loans helps you get the best interest rate you can qualify for, which will minimize the amount of interest you pay over the life of the loan.”

Find more tips for landing a deal in “5 Steps You Must Take Before Buying a Used Car.”

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