The holiday season is upon us, and bargains abound during this time of year if you’re shopping for a car. While holiday deals on new cars tend to get most of the press, superlative bargains are also available regarding used cars. Studies have shown that used-car prices tend to bottom out between Thanksgiving and the first week of January. If you’re in search of a used car deal, your best bet is to shop within this window.
Here are six essential tips that will help you save money and avoid hassles if you’re shopping for a used car over the holidays:
1. Research Each Vehicle
Thorough research is the starting point for any successful car-shopping experience, and one invaluable tool in this area is a CARFAX Vehicle History Report. Each model listed in our Used Car Listings comes with a free vehicle history report, which allows you to access crucial information about your prospective used-car purchase.
This report tells you how many owners a car has had and whether it was used for personal or commercial purposes. A car that’s been in an accident is more likely to saddle you with huge repair bills, and a vehicle history report lets you know if a car has been involved in any collisions. Cars that have received regular and timely maintenance are more likely to provide dependable performance, and a vehicle history report gives you an account of a car’s service history.
A vehicle history report provides a wealth of insight that can help you choose a vehicle that will save you money in repair costs over the long term.
2. Research the Dealer
The holiday season offers lots of genuine deals for used-car shoppers. Still, it’s important to remember there may be some unscrupulous dealers out there who try to reel you in with the old bait-and-switch.
“Dealers may offer holiday or end-of-year used-car sales,” says Richard Reina, Product Training Director at CARiD.com, a site offering automotive parts and accessories. “Many of these are legitimate, but others may just be come-ons.”
If you see a sale advertised, you can save yourself a wasted trip by thoroughly vetting each dealer before visiting the lot. This is easily done by taking a look at online reviews.
3. Shop on a Weekday
Weekends are the busiest times for car dealerships, and this can create challenges.
Instead of visiting a showroom that’s packed full of car shoppers on a Saturday or Sunday, try visiting the dealer during the work week.
You’re more likely to get prompt and complete attention from the sales staff if you do your holiday used-car shopping on a weekday. Squeeze this in during an extended lunch hour, take some time off from work to facilitate the process.
4. Make Sure You’re in the Right State of Mind
Shopping for a used car can sometimes turn into an endurance test. It’s easy to spend hours on the lot perusing models, and if you find a car you’d like to buy, the negotiating process can be incredibly time-consuming.
It’s important to make sure you’re in the right frame of mind to tackle this challenge, and this is especially true when you consider the additional stresses that come with the holiday season. “Car shopping when you’re exhausted after 6 hours at the malls is not the best,” says Reina.
If you’re planning to spend time car shopping, make sure you enter into the process feeling rested and refreshed.
5. Get an Early Start to Avoid Getting Sidelined By the Weather
If you’re in a part of the country that gets snow and ice during the holidays, a sudden storm can ruin your car-shopping plans. For this reason, it’s important to make sure you don’t leave your shopping for the last minute.
Get an early start to avoid having your plans ruined by inclement weather.
6. Be Prepared to Act Quickly
If you’re shopping for a new car, you have the luxury of abundant inventory. Most new cars are in plentiful supply, and if you wait a week or two to shop around before nailing down a deal, there’s a good chance the dealer will still have the car you want when you return to make the purchase.
Used cars are generally available in more limited quantities. This means if you’ve found a model that meets your needs, it’s in your best interest to act quickly, since the model may be sold to another buyer if you wait too long to make a purchase.
Be ready and willing to seize the day if you find a car that checks all the desired boxes.
Finding a Holiday Car Deal
With proper planning and preparation, your car-shopping experience can be a reasonably merry one, and you’ll easily locate a used car that will offer satisfying performance for years to come.