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Hooniverse Asks: When is the best time to buy a new car?

Kamil Kaluski November 23, 2012 Hooniverse Asks 34 Comments

2001 was a great year for me: I had a job that I loved right in midtown Manhattan (in the middle of the fashion district too, lots of eye candy), a bachelor pad, I got my first new car, spent summer weekends at the Jersey shore, and toward to end of the year I met my future wife. Great year, except for that whole 9/11 thing.

That 2001 BMW 330i was the only car, of the dozen or so that I owned, which I have purchased new. I actually wanted a used E36 M3, but after finding out that insurance would cost me around $2400/year, I looked into other options. The new for 2001 330i, upgraded from 328i, delivered 85-90% of the realistic street performance I would get from an E36 M3. While I couldn’t afford a new $40,000 car, I could, like everyone else who got a new E46, afford the lease payments.

I went in on March 29th to ask about a 330i sedan with a manual transmission and no other options than a sport package. They had two black cars, but they were loaded; both had leather, sunroof, HIDs, CD player, which were all stand alone options. The biggest difference between the two cars was that one had a premium package and other a cold weather package. I chose the one with the cold weather package for its aluminum trim and folding rear seats which allowed for transportation of my mountain bike inside. I got the price… and slept on it. And I made a few phone calls to other dealerships.

I wasn’t decided by the 30th. On the 31st I got a call – “Kamil, it’s the end of month. It’s the end of the quarter, I’m going to give you a deal you’d be insane to pass up, but you need to come in TODAY with a check for $1100 and process the paperwork…”

On April 4th, at 2:30pm, I picked up my first new car… and it was amazing, everything about it. I used to smile when I was writing out the monthly check to pay for that thing because, to me, it was worth every penny.

There a Hooniverse Asks question in this story too, and that is – with today being Black Friday, when is the best time to buy a brand new car?

Some say September or November, when next year’s models start rolling out. Others say at the end of any month. Others say during a snow storm at the end of December. Others say in depends on the model, dealer inventory, and factory incentives. What do you think? What are your experiances?

  • TurboBrick

    When your co-worker says "I'm gonna send this to the crusher, do you want it?"… Oh, NEW new car. This is just a gut feeling but I'd imagine towards the end of the year, closer to whatever date the quarter/month sales figures get tallied, when your sales guy needs just one more to beat Slick Rick and Honest Al.

  • Van_Sarockin

    Best time? Before you absolutely have to to have it.

  • R.L. Elliott

    Actually, I think the best time is whatever works BEST for you (need/ability/finances/etc.) I bought my first new car, a 2007 Honda Fit Sport; that I had been researching. After much comparison, it met all of my needs & wants, so I set out to get one. Unfortunately, it just so happened that the price of gas spiked. All of a sudden, economical cars were in demand; since Honda was importing only 35-40k of them, dealers would get a few cars, and most were sold before they even arrived! AND since I wanted a manual, and a specific color, I was told I'd have a long wait. At the time, I had other (aged) vehicles, so I told the sales rep that I didn't care how long it took, this was my first NEW car and I wanted what I wanted, and I was not going to "settle" for what.ever they just happened to have. Long story short, I got the car I wanted and loved it…46 mpg was my best. Unfortunately, a hit & run driver T-boned me, December 2011. Well, it took 13 weeks to get my "replacement" 2012 MANUAL Fit Sport, and then only because of a dealer swap out. Between the insurance payoff, and another settlement check, it's paid for, and although I didn't just HAVE to buy, things were very favorable for me to do so. ……. Now, however, that 2013 V-6, 6 Speed manual Accord is calling me…MUST…RESIST!!! It is a want, not a need!! 🙂

  • OA5599

    Depends on the car. If it's a heavily discounted last year model, New Year's Eve is a good time. If you are wanting a super-exclusive limited-supply exotic, you need to buy early, while supplies last.

    Best time for a bargain is when a dealership is closing and motivated to get rid of their inventory for any price greater than what they would net shipping it back to the manufacturer.

    • danleym

      If you're like my dad, you wait until March and then find a dealer who still has one of last year's models on the lot. Actually, he only did that once, but saved thousands of dollars on a vehicle that was only $20k to begin with. Then again, you don't have a lot to choose from at that point.

  • jeepjeff

    No idea. I've only bought one new car. Went with "when the new models were rolling out", not convinced that was a good idea. Given what's available on the market, I'm not likely to buy another new car. Particularly since my wife's attitude is "welp, did that once, now I'm happy to let someone else eat the depreciation". I expect when we replace the Civic it will be with something two years old, low miles, excellent shape. And she'll drive it nearly into the ground. But that isn't going to be a while. The Civic is nowhere near driven into the ground.

  • JayP2112

    My last new car purchase was a better deal than a used car. 2004 Focus SVT on Xplan and on sale. Something like $5k under sticker. Carmax's used SVTs were about $1k higher with 20k miles. The car I bought was the last silver 5 door in Tx and the last SVT without the cold weather package which had that crappy traction control.

    The 2005 refresh models were starting to trickle to the dealers and they made the '04s look old. They just wanted to clear out all the '04s.

    The only vehicle I'd buy new today would be a Jeep pickup with a diesel. It would last forever (at last past the car payments).

  • wisc47

    Buy an "enthusiast's" car during the winter months (if you live in a snowy area), then just wait a bit until you can enjoy it.

  • Preludacris
    • MVEilenstein

      Yep. Was going to say the same thing.

      • gearz1

        Me Too! Never have bought new and never will.

    • Lex

      Haha. I used to live there. No, really … but not technically because Hell doesn't have a post office. I lived on state land between three recognized cities, but Hell was the nearest place to buy a quart of milk. Better yet, it was almost faster to take the canoe to hell (when it wasn't frozen over) than to drive there.

  • MVEilenstein

    Good woman.

    • jeepjeff

      It's in her blood. Her parents bought a new Chevette in the '80s, and when they told various relatives "We bought a new car!" they were asked, "What [model] year is it?"

      • MVEilenstein

        Love it. Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

  • CherokeeOwner

    The best time to buy a car? When the owner of the dealership orders one for his daughter who then decides she doesn't want it because it's a stick shift.

    That's how my dad, after a test drive, ended up with the then-new (and awesome) PT Cruiser in our driveway. It was the one time my family bought a brand-new car and it was the closest thing to a luxury car we ever had. I still miss it: heated leather seats, our first car with a CD player, storage under the seats, and enough room to haul an antique dresser from Iowa to Colorado. My dad even taught me how to drive stick in it.

    Seriously, screw the haters. The PT Cruiser was awesome when it came out.

    • Target29

      My wife rented one for me for a birthday gift. I still remember how well it handled in comparison to our 97 Venture or 89 Corolla.

    • danleym

      No doubt, when they were first released, they were pretty cool, just because they were different. Then people went nuts, and when you went to the local cruise in there were 20 PT Cruisers, some bone stock, most with minor Autozone dress up aisle modifications, and some all out nuts with 20 speaker sound systems, fog systems under the bumpers, and $10,000 paint jobs. And all 20 of them were owned by overweight guys between 45 and 55. At that point, they began to say "mid-life crisis car for those who don't know cars and have never driven anything more fun than a Camry."

      So blame those guys. They're the ones who ruined it. Well, that, and the design just didn't age well. I don't know why, but after two years, they just didn't have the same initial appeal.

    • Maymar

      A buddy of mine owns one – he loved it just because it was a stick-shift wagon with room for his guitars, and that it was that little bit different looking. Until he ended up living in the city and not needing a car, he was definitely considering a PT Cruiser GT to replace it.

  • SSurfer321

    We bought our 08 Impreza in March of 09. After looking at used Subaru prices, it made more sense to buy new. $12k for a used one with 100k on the clock or $15k (discounted from $18k) for a brand new one. With 2% financing over 5 years, it was a no brainer.

  • Devin

    The worst time to buy a new car is when you're angry at your old car and just want out. I love what I drive now, but I'm sure I could have gotten a better deal if I didn't want to drive the car it replaced off a cliff.

  • Kogashiwa

    Wouldn't know, never bought new. I was going to this last time, I really was. But still not wanting to spend a lot, my choices came down to a poverty-spec Fiesta or an '03 IS300 that looked near new and had only 77k km on the clock, so I did what I assume any hoon would do …

  • IlkkaH87

    On a complete side note, the E46 330i is an excellent car.
    I've been running one for 3 years now. It's fantastic.
    I bought it used for 22k€ with 60k miles on the clock. You Americans are so lucky with those car prices…

    • Metric Wrench

      Yeah, it's really strange over here. BMW sedans depreciate like leftover fish, but the BMW SUVs with their enormous thirst and tipsy handling hold their value. Same across the euro spectrum. I couldn't afford a decent European sedan until we left Europe…

  • mallthus

    Wait for a major hail storm, then go to a dealer that was actually effected by said hail storm. Find a car with hail damage. The dealer will repair the hail damage, of course, but the check they get from their insurance company will be for more than the repair actually costs, plus a hail damaged car is harder for them to sell (at least until the damage has been repaired). They'll let the car go cheap because they're cleaning up on the insurance (at least compared to what they usually make on a new car transaction, where the margin's pretty thin).

    <img src="http://blog.edmondhyundai.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/hail-damage1.jpg&quot; width=600>

  • C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

    Wait until it's at least 2-3 years old.

    Oh, wait…

    I've purchased one new car in my sheesh, almost 30 years of automobile ownership, and I will not likely purchase another.

    Depreciation hurts…badly.

    And going back to the dealer to fix niggly crap which goes wrong is damned irritating, especially when you discover, before you leave the service drive, they've broken interior parts, but weren't going to tell you about it.


  • guest

    Mid January

    Everyone has to pay off the maxed-out credit cards associated with overspending for Christmas (even car salesmen and their managers do this). Because of that, no one is buying or even looking and the car salesman and their manager are tickled that a customer shows up to the point where they are ready for the sell to ensure they receive some level of commission to partially pay off their maxed out credit card.

    Bought three vehicles this way

    • petegaines

      The Honda dealership I worked at last year moved 32 cars last January. That includes used. Mid-late January is a GREAT time to buy.

  • mseoul

    January is a pretty good choice, for the reasons above, to buy any car from a dealer.Its not only the sales team that is short. Business is slow in Jan because customers are short on funds too.

    That said I bought my on;y new car in fall 1998, the NEW E46 with a sport pkg and little else, as Kamil wanted. I ordered mine. What a great car and what a head-turner for many months, even in Phoenix.

  • A week after you die

    • TurboBrick

      And pay it off after your life insurance settlement comes in, clever!

  • Dan

    I've only purchased one brand-new vehicle, and the only reason for that was because I got such a deal on it that, if I wanted to, I could at any time sell it and make a profit for myself, also, consequently, never owe more than it was worth. It was a next-year model as well. Having a car payment has restricted my impulsive cheap-car purchases, although it's nice to have a reliable car (not nearly as fun or exciting though).

    I'm also curious how long a vehicle can actually last with proper maintenance being done to it. After realizing what sort of routine maintenance things people avoid on most of their cars, I'm almost scared to purchase another used car…Almost.

  • dukeisduke

    Right now! What's it going to take to get you into a new car today?

    /just kidding

  • Gammon49

    Best new car value–?
    Buy the last year of a end of model run–I bought a Lincoln LS 2006—18,500$ off the 46,000$ sticker price- no trade
    The car was loaded with options-delivered detailed with a 4 year bumper to bumper warranty & a Lincoln loaner for any service issue