8 of the year’s 10 best times for car shopping are in November and December

A new study by iSeeCars.com reveals that the 10 best times for consumers to get a deal on used cars are dominated by year-end holidays, with November’s Black Friday ranked first. The top 10 best cars to buy on Black Friday include the best-selling Ford F-150 and Honda CR-V.

“It’s always nice to save money, especially when you’re buying a high-ticket item like a car,” said Phong Ly, iSeeCars.com CEO. “The average used car costs $19,040, so even just a five percent discount on that means $952 for consumers to spend on something else.”

iSeeCars.com analyzed over 40 million used car sales from 2013-2015, comparing specific times of the year, and days of the month and week, to determine whether consumers would be able to find more or fewer deals (defined as savings of five percent or more) than on an average day.

Consumers who plan on buying a used car at the end of the year are exceptionally well positioned to save money since most of the top 10 best times for deals are in November and December. After the current new car model year comes to a close around August, consumers start trading in their used cars in higher quantities, thereby increasing the number of used cars available after the summer and driving dealers to make better deals.

“Also, with over three million cars expected to come off-lease this year, used car inventories will grow and make dealers even more anxious to move cars off their lots,” Ly said.

Top 10 Best Cars to Buy on Black Friday

On Black Friday, dealers have been selling more discounted cars than on a typical day, for some of the most popular cars. Half of the top 10 best cars to buy on Black Friday have 100% more deals (or at least twice the usual number of cars with discounts) than on an average day. For example, the top model on the list, the Hyundai Elantra, has had 230.6 percent more deals than normal. The Ford F-150, the best-selling vehicle in the U.S., has 156.3 percent more deals. Other popular cars, such as the Honda CR-V, Honda Accord, and Volkswagen Jetta, are among the top 10 best used cars to shop on Black Friday.

The Top 10 Best Cars to Buy on Black Friday

Rank Model* % More Deals on Black Friday than on Average Day
1 Hyundai Elantra 230.6%
2 Hyundai Sonata 158.9%
3 Ford F-150 156.3%
.4 Volkswagen Jetta 115.6%
5 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 115.4%
6 GMC Sierra 1500 84.7%
7 Chevrolet Camaro 74.8%
8 Honda CR-V 69.8%
9 Chrysler Town and Country 63.5%
10 Honda Accord 62.0%

* Data are based on model years 2011-2015.

 

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Worst Times to Buy

The top 10 worst times to buy a used car are all in the spring and summer.  Surprisingly, the Fourth of July, a major holiday, was the worst time of the year to buy a used car, with 28 percent fewer deals than average. Memorial Day, a holiday often associated with car sales, also had fewer deals. Ly explained, “These holidays occur during times when dealers see higher demand and therefore have less of a need to drive sales through lower pricing.”

 

Best vs. Worst Months

 With so many late fall and winter holidays offering the best chances for a deal, it’s no surprise that those same months proved to be the best months to get a deal on a used car. November ranked first overall with a 26.9 percent more deals than average, followed by December (23.5 percent), January (16.4 percent), October (12.8 percent) and February (6.0 percent). The five months from April through August are the worst for finding deals, with 27.0 to 10.2 percent fewer deals than average.

 

The Best Months to Buy a Used Car

Rank Month % More Deals than Avg
1 November 26.9%
2 December 23.5%
3 January 16.4%
4 October 12.8%
5 February 6.0%
6 September 3.8%

 

The Worst Months to Buy a Used Car

Rank Month % Fewer Deals than Avg
1 April 27.0%
2 May 26.0%
3 June 23.6%
4 July 11.5%
5 August 10.2%
6 March 9.3%

 

First Day vs. Last Day of the Month

For shoppers who can’t wait until the end of the year, the first day of the month is a better time to find deals than the end of the month: the first day of the month is 8.5 percent better than average while the last day of the month is just slightly lower at 5.6 percent greater than average. This difference can be explained by how the sales period lines up with the calendar month.

“A dealership’s sales month usually ends a few days into the next calendar month,” said Ly. “So sales made on the first of the month can be included in the previous month’s sales.” Consequently the first day of the month was the best day for deals.

“Much like with the end of the year, dealers are probably trying to make some last-minute sales to meet their monthly goals,” said Ly. Similarly, the fifth day of the month was the worst day for deals, most likely because it is always at the beginning of the new sales period.

Weekdays vs. Weekends

Shopping for cars on weekdays (Monday through Thursday) is commonly thought to be better than weekends. One reason is that foot traffic is lower on weekdays, so dealers may discount more cars to help drive demand. While the iSeeCars.com study shows that weekdays are better than weekends, they are not much better. Weekdays have only 1.2 percent more deals than average, while weekends offer just 1.6 percent fewer deals.

Weekday vs Weekend

  % Deals Compared to Average
Weekday: Monday to Thursday 1.2% more deals
Weekend: Friday to Sunday 1.6% fewer deals

 

 Methodology

iSeeCars.com analyzed over 40 million used car sales from 2013 through 2015. Deals were identified based on whether the car was listed at five percent or more below market value. The total number of cars and number of deals were aggregated nationally by month, day of the month, day of the week and for specific holidays. At each aggregated timescale, the number of deals were divided by the number of cars sold, resulting in a probability of finding a deal. These resulting probabilities were expressed as a percentage difference from the overall probability of finding a deal on an average day (19.5 percent). For the Top 10 Best Cars to Buy on Black Friday, cars for the last 5 model years (2011–2015), with at least 750 vehicles sold on that day were included. For each model, the percent of cars sold with at least a five percent discount on Black Friday was compared to the same metric averaged across the 2013-2015 period. Models were ranked by the percent difference between the Black Friday percentage and the average percentage.

About iSeeCars.com

iSeeCars.com is an automotive data and research company that helps consumers find the best car deals by providing key insights and guidance. It turns used and new car shopping on its head by applying Big Data analytics powered by over 25 billion (and growing) data points and using proprietary algorithms to objectively analyze, score, and rank millions of cars and tens of thousands of dealers. Based in the Boston area, iSeeCars.com was founded by former TripAdvisor and SAP developers and executives determined to improve the car shopping experience for consumers.

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