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Close-up of a Cadillac grill inside a dealership with FAST 5 in the top-right corner

Fast 5: The Best Time to Buy or Lease

Fast 5 is a series highlighting five fun facts about topics you vote for. In our last edition, “Fast 5: Things You Might Not Know About Us,” readers wanted to learn more about the best time to buy or lease a vehicle.

Does it matter when you go to the dealership? What about time of day? A particular day of the week? Or even the best month? What resources are available to prepare for that visit?

Over the years, we’ve done plenty of research, and we’ve compiled a list of the top five answers for these questions.

  1. The illusion of a “best” time. There are many myths, half-truths and misconceptions about the best time to get a new vehicle. If dealerships gave steep discounts during all the times we’ve heard, they wouldn’t be in business. Here are a few of our favorites:
    • Go to a dealership when it’s raining or snowing. Sorry, you’ll just be looking at cars with wet hair. Barring weather emergencies, dealerships are always willing to help customers, regardless of the weather.
    • Show up a few minutes before closing time. While sales consultants are used to working late, many auto financers don’t support late hours. If you show up too late, you may have to return the next day to finish the deal.
    • Hit them up on (insert day of the week). There really isn’t a better day of the week for deals. It is true that you’ll typically get more attention when there’s lower foot traffic, which is often on weekdays.
    • Buy or lease your car in October–December. There might have been a time when you could get deep discounts on last year’s cars as new models came in, but that isn’t necessarily the case anymore.

    Tip: See
    When is the Best Time to Buy a Car? for a few things to consider when purchasing a new vehicle.
  2. The best time may not be today. If you’re flexible, it’s possible to visit a dealership and get the vehicle you want the same day. However, due to limited inventories, you may find your ideal vehicle isn’t readily available. Many dealerships have wait lists to view and purchase vehicles brought to the lot. You can get a head start and review options by preordering a vehicle.
  3. Buy or lease when it’s the right time for you. Before searching for the car of your dreams, know what you can afford with the Affordability and Payment Calculators. And if you want to see the financing you qualify for ahead of time, you can apply to prequalify.

    Tip: Things may have changed since you last went car shopping. Check out Car-Buying in the ‘New Normal for advice.

  4. Time to give credit where credit is due. Regardless of when you decide to buy or lease, you’ll need more than timing to get your next vehicle. Knowing your credit score can help you anticipate your payments when financing or leasing. It’s normal to have credit questions, so we created the Credit Education Brochure to help answer them.

  5. Time to look inward. Your lifestyle is the most important factor in determining the best time to get a new vehicle. Look no further than your friend trying to fit a child seat in a new sports car. It’s vital to consider where you’re at in life today, as well as where the road will take you in the future. Should you lease or buy? Is it time to go electric? You’ll need to assess your needs and stick to them throughout the process.
Josh Foster
By Josh Foster, GM Financial

Josh Foster takes pride in his three orange cats and the ability to connect people with meaningful experiences. He’s a U.S. Army veteran and volunteers at the Detroit Zoo, where he’s able to educate guests with bad jokes about good animals.


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