Now Actually Is A Good Time To Buy A New Car

You never really see any car commercials that say “Now is a crappy time to buy a new car. You’re not going to save any money at all. Ha, ha, ha.” The reason for this is obvious, but leaves us wondering… When exactly is a good time to buy a new car?

Consumer Reports says, “Now.”

The auto industry’s marketing machine is firing on all cylinders, barking clearance deals on 2007 models in newspaper, radio, and television advertising. Such dramatic discounts are enough to grab the attention of any in-market car buyer, but Consumer Reports Auto Price Service’s analysis shows that there is even more potential savings than shoppers might realize.

CR has the full scoop on their website. Mmm, sweet negotiations.

How to drive a great, end-of-summer new car deal
[Consumer Reports]


Edit Your Comment

  1. j03m0mma says:

    actually September is a good time to buy a new car. especially if you chose a car that is changing its body style next year. also it helps in the resale value since you are getting say an 07 that has been on the lot for a good while and still has low miles. so when you go to resale or trade in the car there is like 1/2 to a full year of no miles on it. example i’ve got an 04 honda civic that has only got 31k miles on it. i do have a very short commute, but the fact that i waited till the end of the model year help as well. now its 3years later and i owe $8000 on my car(did a balloon payment) but the car is worth $11,000 TRADEIN. got to love Hondas.

  2. Nytmare says:

    @j03m0mma: That’s some twisted logic, thinking an older model is going to have a higher resale value.

  3. j03m0mma says:

    well i got the 04 back in 04

  4. beyond says:

    If its a good time to buy a new car then its an even better time to buy a used car!

  5. Myron says:

    There’s some speculation that the auto industry is next in line to get hit by the subprime meltdown. Apparently car sales are influenced by people’s ability to pay the mortgage. If that’s true, automakers might have to resort to big rebates to keep sales moving.

  6. Nilt says:

    @j03m0mma: “i owe $8000 on my car(did a balloon payment) but the car is worth $11,000 TRADEIN. got to love Hondas.”

    Are you including that balloon payment in the $8,000? I have a hard time believing you’ve been paying on a car for 3 years and still owe $8,000 while the vehicle is “worth” $11,000 on a trade-in. A trade is always undervalued so the dealer can make more profit. What kind of vehicle is this and how many miles are on it?

  7. gibsonic says:


    come on 0% interest for 5 years!!!! :D

    Papa needs a new pair of shoes!…the big round rubber kind attached to a 4×4.

  8. warf0x0r says:

    I think I read here that the sub prime fallout is starting to effect the auto industry as more people are holding off on new car purchases and/or are already in over there heads, so expect good financing and cash back especially during the clearance months.

  9. TechnoDestructo says:


    Depends on model changes whether it would beat an 08 with the same miles (most likely not) but he’s comparing the same year to the same year.

    I don’t think it would be worth putting off a car purchase for it unless you were planning on selling that car pretty quick. (after a few years, the mileage difference would be negligible)

  10. jrdnjstn78 says:

    She said it is a Honda Civic, an 04 with 31,000 miles on it. She just may get 11,000 for her car. She is way under the mileage that dealers go by (12,000) a year. Her car will be 4 yrs. old in 3 months. Then again it has to be in almost perfect condition (no dings or dents or chips). Is it 4dr or 2dr, is it basic Civic or not. Have to figure in all that. Hondas have great resale value.

    Love the picture they used. Awesome Mustang Cobra, that’s what I’d love to have.

  11. spinachdip says:

    I don’t pretend to know a lot about how the car selling business works, but the American dealership model has always amused me.

    Dealers fill up a gigantic lot with cars they may or may not sell because no one likes an empty lot, but fall rolls around, they have to clear that lot because there’s a whole new round of cars to fill up the lot and collect dust.

    Meanwhile, automakers are happy to let the dealers create poorly conceived hard-sell ads that undermine the millions of dollars they’ve spent on branding, while handing off customer relations to barely legal con artists who have no loyalty to the dealership or the automaker.

    Surely this isn’t the most efficient model?

  12. timmus says:

    She said it is a Honda Civic, an 04 with 31,000 miles on it. She just may get 11,000 for her car … Hondas have great resale value.

    Actually to me, who buys only used, that’s a great deal. The car is still a baby at 31,000 miles. And paying 11K is a piece of cake compared to the new price of, what, 25-30K? As long as everyone is happy, I suppose Hondas are a great deal all around.

  13. bbbici says:

    I used to sell cars. I can say unequivocably the best time to buy a car, new or used, current model or next season’s, is DECEMBER 31.

    Go in on Decemeber 29 and make a ridiculously low offer. Walk away when offer is rejected, but leave your phone number.

    Expect a phone call on Dec 31 accepting your offer.

  14. Sucko-T says:

    @ Timmus, buying it used is not a great deal. It probably only cost $14,000 new. Why not spend a little more and get new one? That $11,000 dollar used Civic will only be worth $8,000 in three years and you will still have lost 3,000 dollars to depreciation.

  15. JustAGuy2 says:

    Hondas are some of the few cars where it can make sense to buy new – they hold their value so well that the discount you get for buying a 1 or 2-year-old one is pretty limited.

  16. DadCooks says:

    If you don’t have a FICO score above 760, 800 in some cases, don’t expext to get that 0% or other teaser low finance rate.

    The low rates are always for the “well qualified” buyer, but the car dealers love to do the bait and switch on financing.

  17. j03m0mma says:


    yep i’ve now completed all my payments and got a loan for $8000 to purchase the 04 Honda Civic. if you look up on kelly blue book an 04 Honda Civic in fair condition in TX is worth $11k trade-in. One of the best deals I’ve ever had.

  18. j03m0mma says:

    Actually its an Civic EX and i’m a HE ;)

  19. j03m0mma says:

    another reason why Honda’s tend to retain their value is Honda rarely if ever offers rebates. That and I was wanting to buy a car made in America. Only way you can do that anymore is buy a from a Honda or Toyota, but that is a completely different arguement/soapbox.

  20. Sucko-T says:

    Sometimes it does make sense to buy a domestic new. I bough my 2002 Neon new for $8699 after all the rebates and dealer discounts. The MSRP was $14,000! They were asking more for the used one they had on the lot. Sure I can only sell it for around $5,500 now, but that’s not too bad of a loss.

  21. LTS! says:

    Or Subaru.. but anyway

    Who negotiates car deals anymore? That’s last decade. Welcome to the Internet where you know who has what models left, etc.

    All I do is contact dealers, tell them I am interested in X vehicle at this price and whether they are interested in selling it for that price. Trade-ins and everything else can be negotiated separately if need be.

    If you get in the dealership they’ll believe you’ve invested time to get there and then they’ll start playing all kinds of games.

    You can’t expect to make an insulting offer and have it accepted in most cases.

  22. 4ster says:

    I just bought an 08 Scion xB last week. Since they have that “pure pricing” thing, I could not negotiate on the price of the car, but I could go to the dealership with the lowest processing fee and I could haggle over things like an extended warranty.

    We had worked out the pricing on everything down to the penny on the phone before we set foot on the dealer’s lot. While we sat there signing papers, I watched another, younger, tired-looking couple waiting at a desk, and then saw the salesman come back from “talking to the finance manager.” He said to them enthusiastically “I got halfway to what you asked!” What an awful way to spend hours on a Saturday.

    I really think that eventually, all car dealers may go to the no-haggle method. The internet has just made it so easy for consumers to know what they are doing.

  23. acambras says:


    I totally agree. I looked at used Hondas a few months ago — even 2002s were quite a bit more expensive than one might think.

  24. Don Roberto says:

    @LTS!: I thought this, too, then I bought my first new car. On a whim, I asked my dad to check out prices in his town (about an hour from me), while I was at the dealer. A guy mistakenly quoted him 3,000 below invoice on an Accord, and I told my salesman this. My salesman said he’d do it, the other salesman in the other town got back (after we inked the deal with my salesman) and said he couldn’t do the deal. Bottom line, I got a new accord for less than invoice and at a much lower price than any website said I could get.

  25. Don Roberto says:

    @Don Roberto: OH, and I did finance it at 6% with a credit union and 5k down. I just finished paying for it this month. Total of 12 months :)

  26. Antediluvian says:

    My 1999 Subaru says it was made in West Lafayette Indiana (or maybe just Lafayette — I can’t recall), America, but I never bothered to look more into it so there might be a lot of work done in CAN or MEX.

    I like it.

  27. Twill815 says:

    The best time to buy a car is at the end of any given month. New car dealerships have monthly “factory to dealer” incentives. For example, if Toyota Dealership A sells 100 brand new Corolla’s in one month they receive a $100,000 bonus from the factory. So if Dealership A has only sold 97 corollas and there are only a few days left until month end, they will be more than willing to accept your very low offer just so they can meet their incentives. Car dealerships don’t make much money off of new car sales so the incentive is more important to them then the price the new car sells for. Dealerships make money off of their financing plans, parts and service centers, and used cars. I know several people who have purchases new cars for less than invoice using this information.

    Also Christmas time is a good time to buy a new car because everyone else is spending their money on presents, not cars.

  28. SOhp101 says:

    @timmus: Lol, who ever heard of paying $25-30k for a Civic? The new model tops out at 22k and that’s the Si with the navi option.

    @strum40: msrp of 04 Civic EX was around 17k. Hmm 6k (17-11) depreciation versus 3k (11-8) depreciation… it doesn’t take much to figure out that buying the new car is twice as expensive.

    @j03m0mma: Owing $8000 on your Civic after three years (msrp of previous civic ~$17k) is abysmal. Either you had a loan/lease with high interest rates or you put little or nothing down.

    As for your ‘made in USA’ comment, that’s completely false. Yes “US” automakers are starting to build plants in Mexico but a lot of their cars are still made here. Honda has always offered rebates but they don’t advertise them the way US companies do.

    @LTS!: People who want good prices for their cars do their homework first then go on the showroom floor. Negotiating is never required, but chances are you’re not getting a very good deal on your car (prep is key) if you don’t.

    But you’re more than welcome to purchase at a ‘fair’ price when you go into the dealership because that just means that when I go in they’ll be a little more willing to settle for my lower bid.

  29. olegna says:

    I’m with BBB, though I have NO experience whatsoever. Intuition, however, tells me that buying after the holidays would seem to make a lot of sense. You might not get the best selections, but I’m sure there are great deals to be had on cold car lots in January when there are no customers around. You might not have as much selection, but it seems the best time to buy is — like with a lot of things — when nobody else is.

  30. exkon says:

    Use to work at a dealership for 4 years, not as a salesmen but as a lot porter:

    1) Around the holidays, thats when the specials rates and low monthly payments are advertised.

    2) Last day or near the end of the month, salesmen are pushing to make their numbers and trying to get their bonuses…they WILL bend backwards to make the deal happen(90% of the time)

    3) Holiday + end of the month = saving lots of $$$$

  31. olegna says:

    PS: Funny that people still think of cars “Made in the USA.” I’ll think of that the next time I’m near Toluca, Mexico and I see PT Cruisers on the bed of flatbeds or GM’s brake cables and suspension bands being loaded up for delivery. Ain’t globalization a bitch? Assembly plants in the US import a huge amount of the components from cheaper-labor countries. Get over it.

  32. The Walking Eye says:

    @Antediluvian: All Subarus that are not Impreza based are made in Lafayette, IN, being the Outback, Legacy, & Tribeca. And since Toyota is now majority owner of either Fuji Heavy or Subaru (can’t remember which) they’re using the lines from when Izuzus were made there to make Camrys.

  33. j03m0mma says:


    Nope I had a balloon payment witch is like a lease but the car is in your name and you don’t pay ttl on it if you buy it at the end of the 3years. and i believe i bought my car for $14-15k with 1.9% financing.

    fyi Honda is doing the same type of discount/sale for the Accords now. I believe they are changing the body style for the Accords next year.

  34. TechnoDestructo says:


    That’s a Mustang II Cobra. The Comedy Cobra.

    @The Walking Eye:

    Toyota owns 8.7 percent of Fuji. They just bought GM’s stake. I don’t think it’s even a controlling interest. Just enough to facilitate cooperation…like the Camry manufacturing you mentioned. (They also own a stake in Isuzu)

  35. Squot says:

    Personally, I bought a new car in March, and due to excellent timing, who my dad works for, and hunting around, I got a Ford Focus ZX3 with all the bells and whistles (as much as a Ford Focus gets) for 13 grand instead of the list of 17k. It’s got 5 year/100k mile bumper to bumper warranty, which is enough to get me through college.

    I got 800$ off because my dad’s a supplier, 500$ off for financing with ford, and there was a 2500$ rebate because they’re getting rid of all Focus hatchbacks. The interest rate is through the roof, but I’m paying it off in it’s entirety next month with student loans; I hate juggling from one debt to another, but I’ve paid off my 30% interest rate credit cards and 11.something% car loans off with my 8.6% student loans, and am already working to start paying off the loans even though I’m still in school.

    So… even though it’s too late to change anything, thoughts? I think I made a pretty good decision. =/ (I’m 23, going into graphic design (am a junior, but I have this year, next, and another after that.)

  36. gibsonic says:


    could have got a used, reliable car for $5k easily to get through school. But if you have that kind of extra cash to throw around as a student, go ahead and buy a new car.

  37. philipbarrett says:

    I thought all Consumerist readers knew there is NO good time to buy a new car. Let some other schmuck pay the depreciation and get a bargain with plenty of warranty left. That’s how you drive a 12K mile BMW for $15K less than new.

  38. Squot says:

    @gibsonic: My main concern was not having the money later to pay for repairs, should they appear. Also, I would have been ridiculously worried about what the person before me did to it. :(

  39. Phuturephunk says:

    I drive a 16 year old Acura. Just had a new B pipe put on her and after I sink a couple G’s in paint work she’ll be cherry again.

    My gearbox is worth about the same as the book value of the entire car. If I part it out, I can get like 9 or 10 G’s for the car, which would recoup the purchase price plus double the amount of work I’ve had done to her over the years.

    Honda makes some awesome shit.

  40. Lin-Z [linguist on duty] says:

    too bad now is not a time when i can afford a new car! damn college.

  41. m.ravian says:

    i think it’s hilarious that everyone here is using this comment forum to one up each other on their good car deals.

    just so you all know, i got my 1995 Ford Taurus (93,000 miles) last November from my grandmother. FOR FREE.

    so i win. :)

  42. jeffj-nj says:

    Oh, yeah? I got a 1996 Ford Taurus with 81,000 miles last November from
    my grandmother FOR FREE! So there! Hehe. Seriously though, good
    observation. So true. I actually can’t think of a joy more universal
    than telling everyone else what a good deal you got on your car. We
    don’t care.

    I bought a convertible last May. I paid at least $3k more than I
    should’ve. Buying a convertible in the spring is ridiculous. And, I
    know it too. But, I wanted one, so I bought it. And every single day
    that top is down, nothing matters. Nothing at all. So, what I paid for
    the car? Well, that pretty much matters least of all. Especially to
    anyone else.

  43. jeffj-nj says:

    I probably shouldn’t’ve gone on about my own car after saying that no
    one cares about one another’s car. The point I was trying to make was
    that I like my car. The age, mileage, price, dealer experience, etc are
    no one’s business but my own. But the car itself? Well, I think I’m
    allowed to like that, and be proud of it. It’s a subtle difference.

    I think.


  44. rmz says:

    @Squot: That’s the situation I was in. I had just moved, and hadn’t started my new job yet, so first and foremost I had to have something that I knew wouldn’t have any big problems (and I was paranoid that a mechanic’s inspection could still feasibly miss something). I went in on the last day of the month and got my new Hyundai with a great warranty for something like $2000 below sticker. I was satisfied.

  45. anatak says:

    “When exactly is a good time to buy a new car?”


    Its always a bad time to buy a new car. There may be a better time to buy a new car, making it a below average time to buy a new car as opposed to the rest of the time when its just flat out terrible.

  46. SexCpotatoes says:

    Bah, just steal a car at lowes or home depot. The employees are not allowed to stop you, and as a bonus you can get free building materials if you strike at the proper moment.

    Kidding, of course.