By Ali Koomen, who spent over a dozen years in the car business

The price on any new vehicle is subjective. The make/model/trim level/units available/possible rebates/trade-in value and even the mood of the sales manager can affect the price. While there’s no way to guess if the manager is happy or cranky at any one particular time, there are certain days, time of the month and time of year to get a better deal.  Most of these times apply to getting good deals on used cars as well.

TUESDAY EVENING is one of the best nights to buy. Fewer people go out on Tuesdays than any other night of the week. Dealerships are slower, and salesmen will have more time to give individual attention to each deal.

FRIDAY MORNING is probably the best day to purchase a new vehicle. Most dealerships have the weekly salesmen meeting early on Friday morning. The sales associates leave the meetings either all fired up to make a sale, or duly chastened, if their current units sold number isn’t where it is supposed to be. Either way, the salesmen seem to be more likely to do what they can to sell a vehicle when they’re fresh out of a Friday morning meeting.

MEAL TIME: few customers are in the dealership, half the salesmen are out having dinner and the salesmen that remain at the dealership are the ones that take the job very seriously. If they step out to grab a bite, they’ll possibly miss the next deal. These are the guys that are there to make the sale and will work harder to make sure it happens.

THE FINAL THREE OR FOUR DAYS OF THE MONTH will help garner the best deal. Salesmen vie furiously for Salesman Of The Month bragging rights, and those who are neck-and-neck will be making the final push to grab the title. Managers make premiums on monthly units sold, and if the manager on duty just needs to push a few more units in order to see the next bonus, he may let deals slide through that he normally wouldn’t allow.

END OF MODEL YEAR is often touted as the best time to buy a car, since the dealerships blow out the current year’s models to make room for the new. The problem is that all the makes and models arrive at different times of the year, making it hard to pinpoint when it’s best to catch a deal on the outgoing year’s vehicles. By early summer, most new car dealerships should be able to give an estimated time of delivery on the next model year and most salesmen will be happy to put your name on a call-back list to let you know when the new model of interest starts arriving. When that call comes, go in and look at the older year’s models, and perhaps you’ll find a bargain.

DECEMBER is the best month to purchase a vehicle. The buying customers all but disappear at the end of the year, what with holidays and parties and shopping and the like. Salesmen and managers really welcome the rare warm body that strolls into the dealership during this month, and will work hard to sell the few opportunities that are presented. Also, many dealerships hand out fantastic incentives to the top salesmen and managers at the end of the year. Those close to making their year-end bonus will push that much harder to close a deal.

Just keep in mind that any time the dealership’s traffic is slower, or any time there’s a push by the sales staff to make a bonus, the consumer will often find a better deal.

Once you decide when to buy, here are some additional Tips on Negotiating a Great Car Deal.

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