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Buying a new car: when to get the best deal

When is the best time?

Buying a new car is a big decision and the right time can pay off.

Car dealers typically tell customers “any day is the best day,” but there are certain incentives to buying a vehicle in the fall.

“Historically this time of the year in the fall we have the change from one model year to the other,” said Blair Qualey, President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of B.C.

In an effort to stimulate sales, a number of incentives like cash rebates kick in, as many car dealerships and manufactures are more motivated to sell their older inventory simply because they need space.

“The fall is when all the new model year vehicles show up and there’s only so much room on the lots to have old inventory and then bring in all of these new ones,” he added.

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What is the best day to buy?

It’s not just the season, but the day of the month that could make a big difference on your wallet.

The last two days of the month usually give consumers an edge. Car dealers are under pressure to meet a monthly quota, allowing buyers a chance to push hard for more incentives and discounts.

“We have targets that we have to achieve and the last day of the month would be essentially the cutoff for achieving those targets,” said Heather Headley, General Sales Manager at Pacific Honda.

Why prices fluctuate among the same brand and model?

“It’s always worth shopping around, ” said Qualey. Going to car dealerships for even the same brand and model year of a car can mean a difference in price.

The reason, according to Qualey, is car dealerships can offer their own incentives that vary.

“The manufacturers offer a program that all of the dealerships within that brand will offer. But then on top of that the individual dealers may offer their own incentive program,” said Qualey “Every dealer is an independent business.”

Global News wanted to test how much of a price discrepancy would arise comparing the same model and brand of car against three dealerships across the Lower Mainland.

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A 2015 Honda Civic  and a 2015 Lexus  LX 570 were chosen for the experiment. For the Civic, there was a price difference of $770 from one dealer to another, taxes included for a cash purchase.

There was an even stronger difference in price for the Lexus LX 570. For a cash purchase, there were no manufacturer incentives, but we were able to negotiate discounts. One Lexus location in Vancouver gave a $1500 discount, but one on the North Shore gave $5000 off – that resulted in a total price difference of $3,571.

Individual dealerships, according to Qualey, have their own economic model that affects how much wiggle room salespeople have to discount. “One may be part of a larger dealer group that has a different pricing strategy, one may be a standalone small family business that has different economic model for their business,” he said.

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What time is the best for making a deal?

After you’ve shopped around, experts say the best time to negotiate a final price is late in the morning because it’s traditionally the slowest time for dealerships or just before closing because there may be pressure to finalize a deal. On weekends, salespeople typically have their hands full with a large number of shoppers.

How you pay will help you save

There are many variables that affect the cost of a new vehicle. Headley believes that a buyer’s existing relationship with the dealer will influence the price, in addition to other factors such as trading in a vehicle, and how you are looking to purchase it.

“Are you looking to pay cash? Are you leasing or financing? A number of the incentives are going to be geared towards how the consumer is going to be paying for the vehicle. Prices can vary from dealer to dealer depending on [if] the customer has a history at the local dealer, or [if] they are price shopping across the Lower Mainland,” she said.

Ultimately, the “dealer wants to get your business. It’s all about having you as customer,” said Qualey, who believes the dealer doesn’t want to see you walk out that door without keys to a new vehicle in your hands.

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