Everyone loves a good deal, especially when it comes to a new set of wheels. So how do you find one… or rather, ‘when’ do you find one? The week before Christmas? The last week of any month? St. Patrick’s Day perhaps??
While the ‘Luck of the Irish’ has been legend since the North American gold and silver rushes of the 19th century, capturing a leprechaun or perilously hanging nearly inverted to press lips against a non-descript stone atop Blarney Castle, is not a prerequisite to getting the ‘best deal’.
It used to hold true that car buyers could find the best deals at the end of a month, the end of the model year, and the end of the calendar year. But according to Car Help Canada’s Mohamed Bouchama, there are now many opportunities throughout the year for consumers to get an excellent deal on a new car.
“Today’s consumers are a lot more informed and knowledgeable - thanks to the internet. They know what they want and they understand what a fair price is to pay for a vehicle. There’s also more dealerships today and that means more competition than 15 to 20 years ago. Consumers benefit from this – year round.”
With that said, Bouchama reveals some manufacturers do offer additional incentives in July and August to clear out inventory. “But you really do need to be patient and flexible because you may not find exactly what you want.”
John Carmichael, CEO of Ontario’s vehicle sales regulator, OMVIC, agrees that the seasonality that once existed is now largely gone. But Carmichael does believe timing is essential to ensuring a positive car-buying experience. “Today, the only good time to buy a car is after a consumer has thoroughly done their homework. When they have researched all the costs of ownership; and when they have learned a vehicle’s fuel efficiency, reliability and depreciation rate. When they have ensured they understand the financing options available and the possible ramifications of an extended-term loan and the negative equity that often results. When they understand there is no cooling-off period once a contract is signed. And when they have researched the dealer they intend to buy from, not just the vehicle they intend to buy. That’s truly the best time to buy a car.”
Ensuring a Fair Deal – There’s Even MORE to do
Before stepping foot into a dealership ensure you know and understand all incentives being offered. If you can’t find this information online, for a modest membership fee, organizations like Car Help Canada and the Automobile Protection Association can help.
Don’t negotiate solely on the basis of a monthly or bi-weekly payment - negotiate the ‘final price’ of the vehicle first! Only then consider the payment options.
If a consumer chooses to lease, they should make sure they understand the pros and cons. Leasing may not be the best option for a consumer who does a lot of driving - as leases have kilometer limits with penalties for overage – or they may want to consider negotiating extra mileage before signing the contract.
With regards to add-ons like rustproofing, life insurance and window etching, don’t make a snap decision. If it’s a product or service you’re not sure you need or want, ask for time to research or consider it. “Don’t feel pressured to say yes to something you’re unsure of.”
When it comes to extended term warranties, ask yourself some questions: How long do I intend to keep the vehicle? How much do I drive annually? How reliable is this model generally? If an expensive repair was needed, could I afford it? According to Bouchama, “Say yes to an extended warranty if you plan to keep the vehicle for a long period of time, drive a lot and/or plan to purchase a European vehicle – they can be expensive to repair out-of-warranty.”
Determining the best time to buy a car doesn’t require finding a four-leaf clover, it requires knowledge and information. OMVIC has much of that available on its website, including enforcement/discipline information about all dealers who have been found in contravention of Ontario’s consumer protection laws and OMVIC’s code of ethics.
For more helpful tips, including how to get the most money for a trade-in and to ensure you know your car buying rights, visit: OMVIC.ca.