Manufacturer incentives -- or automatic price discounts -- for new cars often change monthly and are set by the manufacturer, not the dealership. Dealerships may offer additional discounts, as well. Philip Reed, senior consumer advice editor for Edmunds.com, suggests purchasing a vehicle during holidays, at the end of the month, model year, design or life cycle of a specific vehicle for heftier discounts.
End of the Month
Each month, dealerships are in competition with same-make dealers in their area and last year’s sales and profit. Some manufacturers offer individual dealer bonuses or base inventory choices on overall monthly sales. Dealer managers and salespeople are paid bonuses on monthly numbers, as well. For this reason, you may get a better deal if you purchase at the end of the month. Dealers are most pressured to increase number of sales -- not necessarily increased profit -- to reach goals and salespeople may be close to reaching bonus incentives at the end of the month. A single car purchase can result in a $1,000 bonus for a salesperson or manger even if little profit is made from the sale.
To create buyer interest during slow times of the year, manufacturers offer competitive rebates to increase sales around the holidays when consumers normally try to save money or spend time with family. Individual dealerships may offer additional savings on top of manufacturer offers. Unfortunately, you can't foresee the offers that manufacturers or dealers will offer; you must check the dealer's and manufacturer's websites to locate discounts. Check for offers around Labor Day, Christmas, the Fourth of July or New Year's.
End of the Vehicle's Year, Design or Lifecycle
When a vehicle is about to be discontinued or new-year models are on the way to dealers, manufacturer incentives usually increase. You may find large discounts at this time, but vehicle options are usually limited. Because new vehicles are no longer delivered to the dealership and are no longer produced at the factory, savings exist only for vehicles already on dealer lots. If you are picky about color or vehicle features, you may want to purchase a new model year or different vehicle. Otherwise, excellent savings are likely to exist on any leftover vehicles.
Sometimes manufacturers or dealers offer discounts at random times of the year. To find out which sales and offers exist, you must check the manufacturer's or dealer's website frequently. Dealerships that offer additional incentives beyond manufacturer discounts may advertise sales online at individual websites, in the newspapers or on the radio. Work with a salesperson at a dealership you want to purchase from. Ask the salesperson to notify you of price changes and offers so you don’t miss out on frequently changing purchase opportunities.