5 Tips to Get the Most for your Dollar at a Year-End Car Sale


The week after Christmas, dealerships begin liquidating inventory to make way for the new models that will fill the lots during the new year. Dealerships pay a pretty penny to advertise these year-end events, so now more than ever, salesmen are prepared to turn visits into transactions. With the opportunity to make many different sales, the sales team has less pressure to keep ticket prices high, leaving consumers more room to haggle. Traditionally, December 27 through New Year’s Eve are the best days for consumers to secure a discount on a new car, but shopping at the end of the year comes with its own unique hurdles.

1. Be prepared for a little give and take

Year-end discounts actually begin during September, but vehicle discounts, like fine wines, only get better as the products age. For the savvy consumer, waiting until the end of the year can reap the biggest financial savings, but you must also be prepared to select from a limited inventory. Like many post-holiday clearance sales, the selection is likely to be a sparse collection of unpopular items, and in the case of vehicles, this means quirky paint jobs and fewer bells and whistles. For the consumer who is prepared for a little give and take, year-end sales can be ideal savings events.

2. Consider models that will become outdated in the new year

Although all vehicles undergo minor upgrades with the new year, major upgrades are made every four to five years. Models that are outdated with the New Year will be sold at larger discounts to make way for the upgraded models. Researching which models are receiving major upgrades can better prepare consumers to find a high-quality vehicle at a year-end sale, as opposed to those models that have been deemed unpopular. However, these high-quality models may still only be available in unusual colors or without upgraded features, so keep that in mind.

3. Bigger is better

Families who are searching for minivans, large sedans, or SUVs can find many discounted options at year-end clearance sales. Also, large pick-up trucks can often be found at closeout prices during these events, offering thousands of dollars in cash-back rebates. And it’s not just the size of your future vehicle that matters; when shopping end-of-the-year car sales, it’s also important to consider the size of the dealership. The larger the dealership, the larger the inventory will be. A larger inventory offers more of a selection to consumers, and it also places more pressure on the sales staff to clear the showroom floor.

4. Choose discounted financing over cash-back rebates

Before visiting a dealership, consumers should consult their banks or loan providers to establish a budget. Discounted financing options with low interest rates and reasonable payment plans generally offer consumers greater discounts than cash-back rebates. These rebates, however, may be necessary to pad the down payment and to otherwise qualify some shoppers for a loan. While discussing payment options, consumers will do well to focus on the final pay-off amount. Many dealerships will encourage consumers to stretch out their payment periods to afford more expensive vehicles, b consumers should be wary of extending payment periods, as this costs more in the long run.

5. Haggle and keep a close eye on the invoice

Hard-nosed hagglers will still walk away from the dealership with the best deals. Remember, it never hurts to ask for more. After all, dealerships will certainly try to stick you with more than you’re willing to pay. Keep a close eye on your invoice to identify any unnecessary extras, such as rust-proofing, fabric protection, or paint sealant. These little fees can certainly add up, and though they won’t cost you thousands, a few hundred dollars saved is well worth the extra attention.

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