Best time to buy a car
Published November/December 2015

CAReful Consideration

4 things to consider when buying a car

BYNina Russin
Buying a car is an investment of your hard-earned time and money, so it’s important to make an informed decision. In addition to making a list of your top priorities in a car — budget, safety features, what type of cargo you’ll carry, etc. — here are four more things AAA Car Buying experts say you should consider, as well. 
1. Time of year. While new models are released year-round these days, it holds true that late August and early September is the time of year when manufacturers look to clear out the current year models and make room for the next model year, which officially begins October 1. As a result, there is no shortage of rebates, special financing, special lease deals, and more to take advantage of. “It’s a little-known secret in the car world that Labor Day weekend is the Black Friday of car sales,” says Don Nunnari, vice president of automotive services for AAA Arizona. 
2. Incentives. Before visiting the dealership, do your own research, and when you arrive, be sure to ask the sales representative about incentives that apply to the car you’re considering. He or she might know about special programs that are not advertised.
3. Holiday sales. Memorial Day, Labor Day, Black Friday — it seems like every holiday offers the “biggest sale” of the year. But be careful about going into a dealership for what might seem like a huge discount around holidays. According to AAA Car Buying Consultant Sarah Correa, “Dealers often add profit-boosting options to a vehicle (dealer-installed options such as custom wheels or tinted windows) so the discount off retail can seem very large.” Do your homework and know the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) for the vehicle you’re interested in and know what dealer-installed options you would choose to add.
4. Hold off on getting the newest version, sometimes. Buying an outgoing model can offer you a significant value. But inventories on these cars are limited, so you may have a harder time finding a vehicle with the features or colors you want. If you are itching to buy the latest model released, consider waiting to make sure there aren’t any problems that will be fixed in later versions, especially if a new car includes new powertrain components, such as a new engine or transmission. In general, the rule of thumb is to wait one model year before buying a vehicle that got any all-new components. However, if the car is a “refresh,” basically a mid-cycle styling update, you shouldn’t have to worry about mechanical problems. 
NINA RUSSIN has been writing about the auto industry for 25 years. 
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