You know it is almost President’s Day when you observe caricatures of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln hawking new and used cars. For some reason, Martin Van Buren, John Tyler and Millard Fillmore are never featured, presidents whose likenesses are wholly unrecognizable.
Presidential caricatures or not, the question that begs an answer is this one: Is Presidents Day weekend a good time to buy a car?
For the record, there is no empirical evidence that the third Monday in February is an ideal time to purchase a car. However, it’s not a bad time to buy either. That being said, if you are considering buying a car this President’s Day weekend, you may want to keep the following points in mind.
Holidays Like President’s Day Attract Buyers
Yes, car dealers know that you are attracted by the seasonal advertisements. There is something about flag waving, dead presidents, and a new vehicle purchase that brings out the patriot in quite a few of us. Whether it is through humor or by historical insinuation, dealers want you to stop by and confer with a salesperson.
A Rough Winter Puts added Pressure on Dealers
With the Super Bowl behind them and March Madness still to come, there is not much in the way of distractions that would keep people from visiting dealer showrooms. Except for snow and plenty of it. If your area has been socked in by snow lately, figure that local showroom traffic has fallen. As a consequence, some dealers are nervous that they may not meet certain manufacturer sales quotas for the month and the corresponding financial incentives that come with them. And with February being the shortest month, you may be able to negotiate an exceptional deal.
Slow Selling Cars Come With the Best Incentives
If you are not especially finicky on what type of new or used vehicle to drive, then keep an eye out for a few models that may have the best incentives.
These may include:
Any new model left over from the last model year. Likely, the dealer is being offered an extra incentive by the manufacturer to clear out older, but still new models. Negotiate your best price and ask the salesperson for a slice of that incentive.
Models that have been heavily updated or redesigned. By late winter, the first of the next model year vehicles go on sale. Typically, these are all-new models, or the next generation of an established model name. Once those vehicles appear — some are present on dealer lots by Presidents Day — the previous generation models must be moved out. Look for deeper incentives on the earlier, but still new older models. By the same token, incentives on all-new models may be scarce.
Geographically misplaced models. A convertible in Montana or a traditional 4×4 in Florida are vehicles that find only a minor audience in their respective areas. For the dealer, those vehicles represent lot laggards, what will cost them money as long as they remain unsold. On the other hand, they can represent an uncovered gem for the prospective buyer. You may need to travel to procure one, but spending Presidents Day weekend in Florida may be worth it.
You’ve Prepared to Make a Deal
If you are a savvy shopper, you have completed your research and know exactly what make and model vehicle you want right down to the trim level. Likely, you have been in touch with at least three dealers to receive their best price and are ready to make a decision. Furthermore, it may not matter to the shopper when he buys, although the prospect of having a new vehicle to play around with for the extended weekend may have him finalizing that transaction early in the day on Saturday.
You have Your Financing Ready and Plan to take the Rebate
If you’re presented with the choice of low-interest financing or cash back, savvy shoppers know that it pays to secure their financing before they shop. If your bank or credit union is currently offering an exceptionally low rate on a five-year loan and your loan application has already been approved, then you can apply the manufacturer’s rebate to your down payment. In this case, your lender may also be offering the extra special deal for Presidents Day.
So put on your top hat and perform your best Abe impression. Or wear a wig and, by George, negotiate your best bargain — Presidents Day or not.