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Why December is the Best Time to Buy a Car

Maybe you’d like to buy a new truck with better horsepower, an SUV with a more spacious interior, or an electric vehicle to save on gas. Or, perhaps you saw a sports car advertised that’s calling your name! No matter what your reasoning is for buying a car, you’re probably looking to get a good deal, especially since the auto market continues to evolve. When is the best time to buy a new car? The good news is that December is the best time to buy a car (new or used)!

Why December is the Best Time to Buy a Car

The week of Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day is the best time to buy a car. Let’s look at the top reasons why the sales are ripe at the end of the year:

1. Auto sellers want to meet sales quotas. Auto salespeople are looking to meet their sales quotas throughout the year, of course, making the end of any month an ideal time to negotiate the purchase price of a new car. However, the week from December 24-January 1 has the added benefit of being the time when salespeople and managers are accelerating their efforts to also meet end-of-year quotas, both personal and dealership-wide, giving you more leverage.

2. Turning out new inventory help drive deals. Manufacturers are likely giving your dealership “significant payouts” to get the older models out of their showroom during this time, so salespeople are more motivated to sell, sell, sell. Dealerships also don’t want older car models sitting on the lot unsold. You’ll likely come across more discounts, rebates, price cuts, and other offers—if not, be sure to ask for them! 

3. More trade-ins are available. As more incentives are available for newer cars, more trade-ins roll into the used car inventory. So, you’ll likely have a good selection and better price on a used car too. This site can also help you calculate the value of the car you plan on trading in.

4. Fewer people are shopping for cars. During the holiday season, people are traveling to visit friends and family. They’re baking, decorating, shopping, and wrapping—you get the idea. So, if you notice that your dealership has low levels of foot traffic, this means the salesperson is likely experiencing a dearth of opportunities to meet quotas and earn bonuses. This creates the perfect opportunity for you to negotiate the sweetest deal possible.

With December offering the highest discount off the manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP)—6.1% on average—and the highest incentives, it’s the most wonderful time of year to buy a car and ring in the new year with a new set of wheels!

Other Best Times to Buy A Car

If December isn’t a good time for you to buy a car, not to worry, you can still get a good deal on a car at other times of the year too. Here are some other best times to buy a car: 

  • Memorial Day weekend: You’ll often find a good inventory of outgoing models in the end of May. Fourth of July: With summer in full swing, you’ll find a great selection of both new cars and current-year cars available.
  • Labor Day: You’ll still find a good selection and some competitive pricing in early September.
  • October-December: The model year of most cars end during these months for both domestic cars and imports, meaning you can get good deals on them. 
  • Black Friday: This retail holiday is also near the end of the year, so you’ll likely find good deals, especially on cars from the outgoing model year.

Typically, the end of the month and days early in the workweek are all good times to buy a car. The worst time to buy a car is generally the months of January-April and Presidents Day, as they tend to offer the least amount of discounts. 

Friendly Tip

If possible, shop for a vehicle from the outgoing model year for a better chance of getting a good deal.

Top Tips for Shopping for a New Car

To help you save even more money when buying a car in December (or any other time of the year), these tips can help:

1. Use our auto loan calculatorsWe offer a variety of auto loan calculators to help you calculate a vehicle payment, compare two vehicle loans, compare monthly payments by term, and more to help you buy a vehicle that fits your budget. Don’t forget to factor in additional costs, such as car insurance, dealership fees, taxes, etc. If you’re looking to refinance, check out this calculator.

2. Research a bit more about the car. Be sure to check out industry reviews and consumer ratings of the vehicles you have in mind. Some car models have known issues that tend to develop over time, so it’s good to know them in advance in case you need to budget for any potential repairs in the future. If you’re not sure about whether to buy a new or used car, check out this article.

3. Do some comparison pricing. Investigate prices ahead of time so you know the vehicle’s invoice price, the MSRP, and average selling price of vehicles that interest you.

4. Apply for pre-approval ahead of time. A pre-approval in hand will help you be in a much better position to negotiate at dealerships. Plus, you want to be sure you’re likely to qualify for the auto loan purchase amount for your new ride. Learn more about how auto loan pre-approvals work and what you’ll need to qualify for one.

Take advantage of your time at the dealership. Don’t be afraid to ask the dealership in-depth questions, especially about the safety features and ratings, technical features, and amenities of the car. Plus, give the car a whirl with a test drive to ensure it’s a good fit for you. Lastly, don’t be afraid to haggle a bit and ask about the terms and conditions of anything you’re signing. Be sure to ask for Space Coast Credit Union (SCCU) financing at the dealership too!

See more tips for applying for a used car loan, learn how to buy a new car, or check out all of our auto articles here.  

Auto Loan Purchase Interest Rates

Effective Date: June 01, 2024
Apply Now
Payment Period Purchase APR* "As Low As" Minimum Loan Amount Payment per $1,000
Up to 36 Months 6.24% No minimum loan amount $30.53
Up to 48 Months 6.49% No minimum loan amount $23.71
Up to 60 Months 6.74% $10,000 $19.68
Up to 66 Months 6.99% $10,000 $18.29
Up to 72 Months 7.24% $12,000 $17.16
Up to 75 Months 7.49% $15,000 $16.74
Up to 78 Months 7.74% $20,000 $16.36
Up to 84 Months 7.74% $20,000 $15.46

Rates shown are fixed Annual Percentage Rates for vehicle model years 2024 and newer. Rates are subject to change. Your actual rate and terms are affected by your creditworthiness, term selected, vehicle type, and model year. Certain restrictions apply. You may be asked to furnish a down payment. Florida loans are subject to Documentary Stamp Tax. The tax amount is not included in the quoted APR.

Contact SCCU for Your New Car Purchase

SCCU is the third-largest credit union in Florida, serving 34 counties with more than 60 branches and online and mobile banking. Our auto loans have flexible terms9, no application fees, and no pre-payment penalties. Plus, our auto loan rates are some of the best around and applying for an auto loan is fast and easy, with local decision makers facilitating the process for quick approvals. We also offer exclusive auto loan rates for community heroes. We look forward to serving you with your new car purchase!

Apply online for an auto loan pre-approval at SCCU today!

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