There are many theories regarding when the best deals can be found. Should you wait until the end of the month, the beginning of the month, the last day of the year, model change in the fall, or check the newspapers to see if there are any “special incentives” or “limited time offers?”
I think most people realize the size or number of the balloons on a car lot has no bearing on how good or bad the deal is. Prices don’t change radically on a daily or hourly basis. There is so much “noise” or “spin” today in the car business, it is difficult to recognize a good deal when you do see it.
Are there genuine offers, such as factory incentives, that really do have a valid expiry date beyond which the end price to the consumer will actually go up? Occasionally this does happen but generally speaking, and common sense would strongly suggest, if a vehicle does not sell before the “end of the sale” it is not worth more, if anything, it is worth less.
Having said that, there are rare times when this rule of thumb does not apply. An example might be the incentives Toyota offered to counter the bad press they received concerning the various recalls. For Toyota, some of these incentives are unprecedented. When their sales rebound, the programs, rebates, and low rates will not be as generous.
During the heat of the economic crisis in 2009, most manufacturers had very aggressive incentives to buy. It was a reaction to market conditions. All incentives are, in one way or the other, a response to economic or market conditions.
If you were to ask Warren Buffet when the best time to buy stocks was, he would tell you to do so when everybody’s selling. The car business is a lot like the stock market in that it is pretty tough to know when you are at the bottom.
When is the best time to buy?
I bet Warren knows the answer to that question. For the rest of us, the best time to buy is when you need a car, never when the Dealer needs to sell one. Relatively speaking, the deals are always the same.