Used Auto Sales
A Season to Buy: Five Tips to Finding the Best Time to Buy a Used Car
It has been said that “to everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose.” This is particularly true with used car buying – purchasing your used car at the wrong time of year or even the wrong time of day can add hundreds or even thousands to your final buying price. With the average used car price hitting a record high of $18,800 in 2015, it has never been as important as it is now to know what times are the best to look for used auto deals and what times are best to avoid.
We have compiled five tips that you can keep in mind in determining when best to search for used auto sales. With these suggestions in mind, a great, affordable used car can be in your reach sooner than previously thought.
- Shop for your used car at the end of the month. A used auto salesman typically has monthly sale goals and – by the end of the month – they will be hungry to make a sale. Typically, a used auto salesman is paid by commission, so there is an incentive towards being the top salesperson of the month. A dealer would be more hesitant about losing a sale in the last week of the month than he/she would be during the first week, meaning that the dealer may be more willing to go along with better used auto deals towards the end of the month.
- Shop for your used car in the morning. The best times to search for used auto deals is when the salesman is most willing to make a sale. This would include the morning – when the dealership would be at its quietest during the day and when dealers would seek out quick used auto sales before lunch.
Contrary to popular belief, going to a dealership right before closing time is not a good way to get great used auto deals. Most dealers consider the practice rude and inconsiderate of their time. More often than not, negotiating for used auto deals after the store has closed puts the shopper at a disadvantage, as the dealer now has incentive toward getting the highest price possible and the shopper is locked in the gated dealership until the dealer lets him/her out.
It’s typically recommended that you seek out a time when the dealer is eager or even desperate to negotiate a sale.
- Shop for used auto deals on either a Tuesday or Wednesday. The busiest times for dealerships are the weekends. These are the days that dealerships usually hold their sales events. As there is typically a heavy flow of traffic on the weekends, losing a sale for having too low a requested price is not a big deal. With Mondays typically reserved to deal with closing business from the weekend sales, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are, generally, the slowest days in the dealership. These are the days where a used auto salesman would have both the time and the incentive to negotiate a better price with you. These are also the days a lost sale will affect the dealership’s bottom line more.
- Shop for used auto deals in October, November or December. The end of the year is when manufacturers offer sale incentives to clear the sale lot for the New Year’s models. With car sales typically slower in the cold months than in summer, this creates a situation where dealers are willing to make quick used auto sales in order to raise commission totals and to make needed room. According to Kelly Blue Books and CarGurus.com, this creates a situation where used car prices will drop at a steady rate from their summer peak to their annual low at the beginning of January.
- Shop for used auto deals following major new car incentives, rebates or price drops.Particularly with new car dealerships, major price cuts or buying incentives will raise the number of used cars brought in as down payments and trade-ins on new purchases. This will make dealers more willing to negotiate a low price on a used car, as the dealership would be desperate to make room for new arrivals and would be more willing to sell a used car to a shopper than to sell it at a steep discount to a reseller.
5 Tips for a Used Car Negotiation Guru
Buying a used car is a fear that's up there with giving a speech in front of a hundred people. Some call it autodealerphobia and it stems from the reputations of used auto salesmen who are out to squeeze every last dime from your pockets when you buy a vehicle. Of course, not every salesman is a walking stereotype, but walking into a sale unprepared can result in an unpleasant experience and lost savings.
But there is no need to fear! You can conquer autodealerphobia with some simple tips and tricks and a little know-how. Before you venture out to purchase a new ride, follow these steps to get the best used auto deal in town (and maybe even have a little fun while you're there).
Price Shop before Visiting a Dealership
Don't even set foot on the lot until you're ready to buy, because the game has changed since 10 or 20 years ago. Many used dealerships list their inventories and prices online and consumers can email other dealers asking for quotes with the intent to buy. You might get some pushback: "We only discuss used auto deals on site." But that will change when you politely tell them that you're happy to take business elsewhere. When you narrow in on a price you like, then get in your soon-to-be-former car and visit the dealer.
Find the Out-the-Door Price
If the sticker on a car says $15,000, it will actually cost you more before you drive off the lot. Taxes, fees, warranties, and service plans will all cost extra and add up to an amount you never intended to pay. Negotiate the total cost of the used car, or the out-the-door-price, to ensure the best used auto deal.
Tell Them a Price, Don't Ask
"Are you able to work with me on the price?" is one of the worst things you can say to a used auto salesman on the floor. At that point, they have you and you'll likely overpay on the list price. Instead, come in with a specific out-the-door price and let the salesman know you're ready to sign when he or she meets it. If they don't, be prepared to walk (don't worry, they won't let you go without a deal).
Follow Up on Weekends before Closing
If the used auto salesman does let you walk out the door, give him or her a call back on Saturday or Sunday, one hour before the dealership closes. Remind them that you're ready to sign if your number is met and they might be tempted to get one more deal done before the end of the day and week (especially if numbers aren't going well for them).
Repeat, If Necessary
Salesmen will tell you the car you want is the only one in town at that price, and it just isn't true. Chances are the car you want is waiting at several dealerships in the area and you can follow this steps at any or all of them until you find the used auto deal you want and kiss autodealerphobia goodbye.
Three Questions to Ask Your Used Car Dealer on the Phone
The standard way to buy a used car has fundamentally changed. Instead of travelling from one used car dealership to another, buyers can search through hundreds of detailed used car ads to find the best options and even get approved for financing online. This means that today, buyers are more informed than ever before stepping on the lot. You can stay even more informed by talking with a used car salesman over the phone to help find the best used car deal.
Start by your used car salesmen these three questions over the phone, and you'll be off to a good start in finding a used car deal.
1.) Who owned the car previously?
Of course, you don't need to know the name and address of the previous owner, but understanding what type of owner they were is very helpful? Was the car previously owned or leased? Was it a rental, or even an automotive press car? This sort of information can be very helpful in determining the quality of the car.
2.) Is a Vehicle History Report Available?
Ask your used car salesman for a Carfax or similar vehicle history report. These reports won't tell you everything, but they will point out any major repairs that could be the result of an accident. Vehicle history reports also can help corroborate odometer readings, owner history, and service history.
3.) How long has the car been on the market?
While some sites like CarGurus.com will tell you how long the car has been posted, asking a used car salesmen this bit of information can help you understand the pressure that the seller may be under to sell the car.
3 Tips for Finding the Best Used Auto Deals in Town
Finding the best used auto deals in town can take patience, persistence and a little creativity, but it’s by no means impossible. It starts with knowing what you want and how much you’re willing to pay for it. You also need to have a good understanding for how used auto sales work so you can avoid certain traps and tactics. Here are just a few ways you can think like a used auto salesman to find the used auto deal of your dreams.
Be Your Own Salesman
A used auto salesman is going to do everything they can to establish a personal relationship with you so that you feel comfortable working with them and more inclined to accept an offer. A prospective used car buyer should use the same tactic to try and get the best deal. Let the used auto salesman know that you plan on having all of maintenance performed at their dealership, or that you have a friend or family member who is in the market for a used car and that you’d be more than happy to refer them. The promise of new and repeat business might be just the trick to knock a few hundred dollars off the price tag.
Don’t Be In a Rush
Sometimes the situation demands that you act quickly to buy a used automobile, but the used auto salesman doesn’t need to know it. A desperate buyer is in the worst possible bargaining position, and the used auto salesman is going to assume that you’re more inclined to accept a higher price simply because the clock is ticking. If you aren’t in a hurry, wait until the end of the year when sticker prices start to drop and used car dealers are working from a position of desperation.
Be Realistic About Vehicle History Reports
If you find a really great used auto deal but then find a few repairs or an accident on the vehicle’s history report, don’t be too quick to move on. Almost every vehicle has required some maintenance or repair. Have the vehicle inspected by an independent mechanic, who will be glad to tell you the extent of the previous damage and if it might affect the vehicle’s future performance.