When Is The Best Time To Buy A Used Car?

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Interested in buying a used car? There is a lot to consider when it comes to making the best purchase decision for your needs and budget. In this post, we’ll be sharing the best ideas from our experience as lenders and our members’ experience as buyers when it comes to timing and saving on a used car purchase.

How To Save On Your Next Used Car Purchase

When it comes to finding a good deal on a used car, the internet is full of ideas. Here are our favorite budget-saving tips when it comes to buying a used vehicle.

Understanding Resale Value

When searching for used cars, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the number of options available to you. Extra features and seemingly good price markdowns can make any potential choice seem like ‘the one’. But before you make an offer, it’s a good idea to research the true value of your prospective purchase. Resources like NADA allow you to input a vehicle’s specifics and view the “clean retail value” of that particular year, make, and model. Be sure to carefully consider the condition of the vehicle. Make note of any significant wear and include that information in your value calculation. Knowing the resale value will allow you to make a more educated, confident offer when working with a dealership.

Knowing a Vehicle’s History

Another must-use resource to take advantage of prior to making your used car purchase is CARFAX. Vehicle History Reports from CARFAX give prospective buyers a tremendous amount of information prior to purchase. These reports include ownership history, any reported accidents, and maintenance history. While buying a used vehicle comes with the expectation of  eventual repairs and upkeep, knowing the history of a used car before deciding to buy offers a better understanding of what you can expect in the future and, hopefully, avoid the unexpected.

Comparison Shopping

Shopping around for your next used car will offer you some insight on what other dealerships are offering on similar makes and models. You might just find a better deal on a similar vehicle that’s a year or two newer (or older). Prefer to shop from the comfort of home? Websites like TrueCar can be a great way to input specifically what you’re looking for and find the best deals in your area based on those personalized search results.

How to Decide When To Buy A Used Car

With those money-saving tips in your pocket, you might still be asking yourself: when is the best time to buy?

Purchase Before You Have To

When it comes to emergency auto repairs and replacements, there is no way to predict the future. That said, if you finding yourself regularly needing costly repairs or any other factors that place a “new to you” vehicle purchase in your near-future, it’s a good idea to begin your search early. The more time you give yourself to shop around and get your finances in order will allow you to better plan your purchase around upcoming holiday sales or any timeframe where your comparison shopping research can pay off in a great deal.

New Year, New Cars

We mentioned holiday sales, but not all of them are created equal. It’s important to align your goals with the goals of the dealers themselves. At the start of the year, not as many people are buying cars, but salesman still have to sell. Those early holidays, like Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and Presidents’ Day, are among the top times to strike the a good deals. Meanwhile, despite their popularity as travelling holidays, we find it’s best to avoid car shopping around Memorial Day or the 4th of July. The summer months are already peak times for vehicle sales, which may lessen your chance of making the most of your budget. If you’re looking for a specific make, keep an eye out for when the new models will be hitting the dealer lots – they’ll need to clear out the old to make room for the new and that can also lead to bargaining opportunities for well-prepared buyers.


As you get ready to make your used car purchase, don’t forget: the more prepared you are beforehand, the less time you have to spend at the dealership. Secure your ‘Check-In-Hand’ loan before you start shopping by giving us a call at 804-274-1200 or by visiting a branch today.

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