Should I buy last year's model car?
Auto experts agree that the last two weeks in December through the beginning of January are the best time to buy a car. But why? There are a couple of reasons.
Why late December and early January are the best times to buy a car
Auto dealers are ready to move last year’s models off the lot. They’ve probably had the new models for sale for several months, and once the calendar flips to January, it gets harder to sell the previous year’s vehicles. Not only that, but salespeople are eager to hit their year-end quota. They’re often willing to offer bigger-than-usual discounts in order to make that last sale of the year. Manufacturers, too, may be offering incentives. All this adds up to great deals on new cars. But don’t get swept into buying something you can’t afford.
The next best time to buy a car
If you miss that year-end opportunity, don’t worry. Auto experts suggest timing your purchase in late March, June or September, when salespeople are trying to meet quarterly goals. In past years, automakers have offered their best incentives in other months, such as July when new models begin to arrive on the lot.Buying last year’s model could save you money, but is that a wise choice?
Should you buy last year’s model car?
While you can get the best year-end deals on older cars, it’s not always the best idea. Here are some questions to consider when you’re planning your purchase.
- Do you have your heart set on a particular color or trim? Once the end of the year rolls around, the dealer’s selection of older-model cars will be limited. If you’ve got to have the baby-blue Audi A5 with the sunroof, you might have to spring for the new model.
- How long do you plan to keep your car? If you typically trade up every two or three years, buying last year’s model could hurt you. Why? The car will technically be a year old once you buy it — even though it’s brand new — and so will depreciate faster. But if you plan to keep the car for longer, this shouldn’t matter.
- Did the manufacturer introduce a new body style for next year’s model? If the new version of the car looks dramatically different, then yours will look dated as soon as you drive it off the lot. However, deals on last year’s models are usually better when a redesign has been introduced — and you may find the older look more appealing.
- Does the new model have better electronics? Most new cars now include high-tech features such as cameras, touchscreens, Bluetooth integration and advanced audio systems. If the new model adds or significantly upgrades electronic features, that may be a factor in your buying decision.
- Were there any major problems with the previous year’s model? One advantage of buying last year’s model is that it has already been thoroughly tested, so you’ll know if other owners have had any complaints. Read car reviews and check the past year’s vehicle recalls on the NHTSA’s website.
- Would you consider a used car instead? While you’ll be able to get great end-of-year deals on last year’s models, you could save even more money if you buy the same car used. Comparison shop with a reputable used-car seller, such as Carmax, to see which is the better deal.
Don’t Buy A New Car Without the Facts
If you’re buying a car, make sure you have all the info you need before making your purchase. Compare.com has a host of great tips on car buying that are designed to save you money and ensure that your purchase is one you’ll enjoy for years to come. Learn how to perfectly time your car buy, negotiate a price and determine what style of vehicle best suits your personality and lifestyle.