The Best Time to Buy a Car Has Changed. Negotiating Is More Important Than Ever.

The Best Time to Buy a Car Has Changed. Negotiating Is More Important Than Ever.

Did you know that new car incentives are 40% higher during one particular time of the year? Or that used car prices are more negotiable now than at any point in 2022? It’s amazing how much money you can save with a bit of knowledge that car dealers don’t want to share. At YAA, we strive to make car buying and ownership easier, less expensive, and simply a better experience. Helping the consumer save money is what drives us. In this guide, we’ll go over the best time of the year for buying a car. If you’re determined to spend less on your next set of wheels, we think you’ll find this information valuable.

The Best Time to Buy a Car Has Changed

As manufacturer incentives plummet, car buyers are looking for other ways to save.

Average new car transaction price (orange) versus average incentive spend as % of transaction price (blue). Source: Cox Automotive

The demand for new and used cars continues to outpace supply as automakers have a really hard time increasing production. Global supply shortages have affected car makers on every continent. However, the situation for car buyers is improving in late 2022. After almost two years of ridiculous prices, deals can finally be negotiated

The best time of the year to buy a car has changed. Pre-pandemic monthly trends may return someday (if automakers ever get back to normal inventory levels), but let’s talk about where things stand in 2022 and early 2023.

Wait a Few Months For the Best Deal

In late 2022 and early 2023, new and used car prices are dropping. This is not a normal time for car price trends. Price declines are more pronounced in the used car market, but select new models are negotiable too. 

Let’s cut to the chase:

The best time to buy a car lies in the months ahead. Deals can be negotiated today, but your leverage for lower prices will increase in December and in early 2023. 

The last week of the year is usually the best time to buy a car. Incentives and negotiation leverage improve as dealers hurry to move the last of the previous model year off of their lots. 

Let’s talk about the used car market. Wholesale price declines are finally translating to lower used car prices (more on that here). This was confirmed by the November Consumer Price Index (CPI) report that showed used car prices were down -2.4% month-to-month when seasonally adjusted. New car prices remained nearly flat at +0.4%, the smallest new car price increase in 2022. 

used car price trends in 2022
In 2022 (green), used car prices have fallen after record highs in 2021.

We track used car prices weekly. See this week’s used car price update.

New car prices are softening, despite automakers steadily raising MSRPs. Don’t expect widespread MSRP drops anytime soon. However, there lies hope in the slow return of manufacturer incentives and the demise of additional dealer markups. 

Our YAA Auto Experts have noted that domestic brands like GM, Ford, Chrysler most often present the best opportunity to get a deal under MSRP. 

In other words, your chances of buying a new car at or below MSRP are better now than at any time in the past 18 months. 

The longer you wait (into 2023), the more negotiation power you’ll have as the overall new car market softens. 

However, when it comes to total cost, it’s not that simple. Interest rates are rising to the highest levels in over a decade. If you wait longer to buy, there’s a real chance that the cost of financing may rise to the point where your monthly payments end up higher due to interest. Here’s the latest on car loan interest rates

Wouldn’t it be nice to finance your car with someone you trust? Finance with YAA! We work with trusted credit unions offering low rates and great customer service. Learn more and get pre-approved in minutes!

The average transaction price (ATP) of new cars has hovered around $48,000 for months. The latest data shows it continues to remain at that level. How could we possibly advocate for negotiating lower prices? The data shows that luxury car shoppers continue to buy, and that has been driving up the overall market average. Deals are out there, if you know where to look.

Average transaction prices for new cars, 2012-2022. Source: Cox Automotive

With market conditions always changing, we believe that knowledge is power. YAA’s Auto Experts are just one of the great benefits of YAA Membership. Learn more about our plans. How much money can you save? Read YAA member success stories!

Historical Norms: When Is the Best Time of the Year to Buy a Car?

Pre-pandemic data from Edmunds shows that the time around Labor Day is when most new car incentives begin, with discounts growing as the year comes to an end. Better deals continue on outgoing model years through fall and winter as new models compete with outgoing model years for space on dealer lots.

Many automakers roll out the new model year by September. If you’re okay with the outgoing model year, you have significantly more leverage to negotiate prices down. Don’t show up to the dealership expecting thousands of dollars off of the brand-new model year unless demand for new cars falls off a cliff (as it did in 2020). 

Negotiate like a PRO with this free dealership cheat sheet. Don’t buy a car without it!

Year-end car deals most often arrive as manufacturer incentives (which we keep track of every month). New car incentives were at historic lows during the worst of the chip shortage, but they’re slowly coming back as recession fears hit demand.

Here’s how current model-year savings compare with new model-year cars. Remember, these were the historic norms, and the situation in 2022-2023 has changed dramatically. 

best month to buy a car
In pre-pandemic times, this graph shows that new car incentives increased at the end of the year. This is still true, but to a lesser extent as inventory remains lower. Source: Edmunds.com via Market Watch.

Stay On Top of Market Conditions

Would you have guessed that used car prices have fallen nearly 14% at wholesale markets since last summer? Probably not, because it wasn’t until September that car prices dropped at the retail level. The car market is changing as automakers slowly come out of the semiconductor chip shortage, and consumers hold back on spending as recession fears circulate.

Here’s the bottom line: rapidly-changing car market conditions are likely to overshadow the seasonal trends that we’ve seen historically in pre-COVID times.

After 18 months of price increases, used car prices are dropping. Even if sticker prices are nearly the same, at YAA, we’ve had more members scoring deals under the advertised price. That’s why we think you should negotiate 5-10% off of a car purchase today. 

On the new car front, negotiation leverage depends on three main factors: 1) vehicle supply, 2) local dealer inventory and 2) demand for the specific model and trim. 

See the latest new car inventory numbers here.

For example, our YAA auto experts joke that everyone wants a Toyota RAV4 Prime right now. Demand is through the roof, Toyota is hardly producing any, and therefore prices for the RAV4 Prime remain insanely high. 

On the other hand, some new car models have more inventory than at any time in the past year. New car inventory isn’t on par with pre-pandemic levels, but it’s an improvement. Pair that with reduced demand, and new cars are finally becoming more negotiable. Dealer markups do exist for popular models, but you CAN negotiate pricing on new cars again.

YAA Car Search – Search new and used car listings with industry insights dealers don’t want you to see!

There’s a New Way to Buy, Sell and Own a Car

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Car Buying Cheat Sheet: Former Dealer Shares How to Negotiate Car Prices Confidently

Car Buying Cheat Sheet: Former Dealer Shares How to Negotiate Car Prices Confidently

Our team of YAA Auto Experts combines decades of experience in the automotive industry to help you, the consumer, buy a car without the hassle. That’s why we created this must-have resource for buying a new or used car at a dealership, whether in person or through the internet sales department. This car buying cheat sheet will help you negotiate car prices confidently, so you can drive away feeling proud of what you’ve accomplished.

Thank you to YAA’s Ray Shefska (former dealership sales manager) and Kimberly Kline (former dealership finance manager) for putting this together for car buyers everywhere!

How to Negotiate Car Prices with a Salesperson

Use this cheat sheet to negotiate the best auto loan rates on new or used cars!

The best way to learn how to negotiate car prices effectively is to prepare for the situations and conversations you’re likely to encounter with the salesperson and finance manager. Feel free to print off this cheat sheet and bring it with you! Without further ado, here’s how an informed, prepared car buyer can expertly negotiate.

Salesperson: What do you want your monthly payment to be?

You: I’m not concerned with the monthly payment, I am only focused on the total out-the-door price.

Salesperson: So you’re paying cash?

You: I haven’t determined exactly how I plan to pay for it. I am only concerned about the total out-the-door price.

Salesperson: So you have a monthly budget in mind?

You: I have a total out-the-door price in mind, so I would only like to discuss that at the present time.

Salesperson: OK, how much cash will you be putting down?

You: I haven’t decided that yet and I won’t until we establish an acceptable total out-the-door price.

Notice a trend here? You really really want to stay laser-focused on the only number that matters this early in the game: the out-the-door price. Salespeople will try hard to learn more about how much money you’re willing to spend. If that can get you to talk about monthly payments, they immediately have an advantage over you. That gives them leverage to play with higher interest rates, longer loan terms, and lower trade-in offers. None of those are good for you, the buyer.

Salesperson: What are going to do with the car that drove here, will you be trading it?

You: I haven’t decided yet. We can discuss that as a possibility after we agree to an out-the-door price.

Salesperson: Now that we have agreed to the out-the-door price, what about the car you drove here, will you be trading that in?

You: I might, it depends on whether or not you can match or beat these written offers that I have already received. 

Salesperson: Now that we have agreed to the out-the-door price and agreed to the value of your trade, what do you want your monthly payment to be?

You: I’ll only discuss that with the Finance Manager.

Salesperson: Will you be putting any cash down?

You: I’ll be more than happy to discuss all of that with the Finance Manager. If you provide me with a credit application I’ll be more than happy to fill that out for the Finance Manager.

Salesperson: The Finance Manager will be with you shortly.

How to Negotiate the Best Auto Loan Rate with the Finance Office

Use this cheat sheet to negotiate the best auto loan rates on new or used cars!

Finance Manager: I assume that you have given some thought to a monthly payment and loan term that will be comfortable to you.

You: I have indeed and I have also secured a pre-approval from my credit union as a possibility for my loan.

Finance Manager: Would you consider financing through us?

You: I would assuming that you can beat the pre-approved rate that I have. Here is the pre-approval terms sheet from my credit union with all the particulars.

Finance Manager: So if I beat the rate you will finance with us?

You: Yes, if you beat it by at least ¼ of a percent. And I promise to at least listen to any finance and protection packages that are available.

Finance Manager: So you are open to some of our programs?

You: Possibly, if we can agree to a reasonable selling price on any items that I think have value. Oh, and if I do buy any products I would at least expect you to give me the buy rate from the bank on my loan. Once again though, you will need to beat my credit union rate by at least ¼ of a percent for me to even consider it.

Finance Manager: Great, let’s get started.

You: I’m all ears.

Finance Manager shares the MENU with additional products.

You: But first, before we go over product benefits, where is my base payment, amount financed, term and interest rate?

Finance Manager shows them to you.

You: Is there a prepayment penalty if I finance with you?

If there is no prepayment penalty, proceed with considering their menu options.

These are products you might see on the menu, and questions to ask:

  • Vehicle Service Contract (also known as an extended warranty)
    • Are you getting a fair deal? Remember, YAA brings you the LOWEST prices for extended warranties. Get a free quote here!
  • GAP coverage – In the event of an accident, GAP covers the difference between what a vehicle is currently worth and the amount you actually owe on it.
    • Does this GAP coverage pay 150% and my deductible?
  • Maintenance plan – Does this plan cover the major, expensive services or is this basic oil, filter & tire rotations?
  • Electronics Warranty – Your new car IS a computer on wheels, but be wary of dealer pricing on electronics warranties.
    • YAA offers a low cost Electronics Warranty with all the coverage you need. Get a free quote!
  • Tire/wheel coverage – Does this also cover cosmetic damage?
  • Paintless dent repair/windshield repair – Where on the vehicle and how large can the dent/crack be? How many are covered under the policy?
  • Paint and interior coverage 
  • Key care – Is this 5 years and unlimited keys?

Finance Manager shows you payments

You: (If you don’t see actual product price) Please write the actual product price next to each one.

Finance Manager: It just changes your payment by this much.

You: I see that, but I want to see the actual price of each product to help me make a good decision. 

At this point, negotiate prices down on any products you want.

Finance Manager: OK, sign here and here and here.

You: Please print my Bank Contract and Purchase Order first so I can go over them.

Go over each line of your itemized Purchase Order and make sure the bottom line (amount financed) on both documents match!  

YAA Is Here to Empower Consumers

Looking for more car buying resources? Search our free guides, and join the YAA Community today! We’re here to help you negotiate car prices confidently. When it comes to car buying, knowledge certainly is power.

Check us out on YouTube at the YAA main channel and our daily Ray and Zach LIVE SHOW.

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Auto Loan Interest Rates Are Still Rising – Here’s What That Means For Car Buyers Today

Auto Loan Interest Rates Are Still Rising – Here’s What That Means For Car Buyers Today

Auto loan interest rates are rising. For most of us, when buying a new or used car, agreeing on a price is only half the work (or if you have a car to sell/trade-in, a third of the work). Are you ready to go to battle for round two? That would be negotiating a fair auto loan interest rate.

Auto loan APRs are higher than they’ve been at any point in the past decade, and they’re headed even higher. How much do rising interest rates matter for today’s new and used car buyers? We crunched the numbers to find out.

The Average Car Loan Interest Rate Is the Highest Since 2009

What do you get when you combine interest rate hikes with the likelihood of an economic recession? It becomes a whole lot more expensive to borrow money. Whether you’re in the market for a new car or a new house, lenders seem to be increasing loan rates every other day in 2022.

According to new data from Edmunds, the average car loan interest rate (APR) on a new vehicle loan rose to 5.9% in September. That’s up 44% since December 2021. The last time auto loan rates were this high was right before the crash of 2009-2010.

What’s different this time around? Cars are 71% more expensive in 2022. Back in 2009, the average new car transaction price was $28,201. Today, it’s a bit over $48,000. Buyers are paying A LOT more interest in 2022, and monthly car payments are more akin to second mortgages.

In September 2022, the average amount that new car buyers financed was $41,347. Thinking about stretching that loan term as far out as possible? That adds up to a total of $7,849 in interest paid over 72 months. Ouch!

Used Car Loan Rates Rising Most

The average used car loan interest rate has shot up to 9.2%, adding thousands to the total cost of borrowing money to buy a car.

In September 2022, the average amount that used car buyers financed was $31,366. That adds up to a total of $9,566 in interest paid over a 72-month loan term. 

What if you shop around and get pre-approved for a 7.0% APR instead of the average of 9.2%? Over 72 months, you’d SAVE a grand total of $2,429 in interest, all by simply shopping around and getting some more loan rate offers. 

You DON’T have to take the financing offer from the dealership. Learn how to negotiate auto loan rates with confidence.

The Federal Reserve Is About to Raise Rates Again

auto loan interest rates

When ‘The Fed’ meets again in early November, they’re almost certain to announce another rate hike. Whether it amounts to 75 basis points or less is of little concern. What’s certain is that auto loan rates will continue to rise in November. 

Based on our own analysis at YAA, we expect the average car loan interest rate to climb higher to between 6.5% (for new cars) and 10.5% (for used cars) in November. 

Remember that these are expected averages, so there will be better (and worse) auto loan offers out there. Don’t settle for your first auto loan rate offer. Shop around!

Not sure where to start? See competitive loan offers with the help of YAA!

How to Save Money on Auto Loan Interest, Even As Rates Rise

There are still ways to save big-time on auto loan interest. These are the biggest ways to keep more money in your pocket:

  • Shop around for the lowest interest rate. Pre-approval does impact your credit score, so it’s best to apply for all of your pre-approvals at the same time (or same week at least) right before you plan to buy the car.
  • Go for a shorter loan term! At today’s average new car loan interest rate of 5.9%, the difference between financing $35,000 with a 48-month loan and a 72-month loan is $2,267 in interest paid. That’s not pocket change!
  • Spend less, and/or put more down. It’s easier said than done, but consider borrowing less if you want to pay as little interest as possible. You could buy a less expensive car, put more money down for your down payment, or both.
  • Refinance your loan. Yes, even as interest rates are rising, if you get stuck with a bad loan, or improve your credit over time, you should consider refinancing your auto loan. Go to a local credit union so that you don’t get hit with fees from online websites.

Manufacturer Incentives: The Best Auto Loan Rates Right Now (For a Limited Time)

Save Time and Money with Real Advice From Auto Experts

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The Best New Car Deals Today

The Best New Car Deals Today

Interest rates are rising, and the economy remains on the brink of an inflation-driven recession, but deals can still be had when buying a new car. Every month, the team at YAA pores over the latest offers from every automaker. The result is a one-stop resource to share the very best new car deals with you. 

Not finding what you’re looking for? We’ve included links to each automaker’s website. Check back frequently, as this living page will be updated regularly. 

Check out these other YAA car buying resources:

The Best Auto Loan Rates Right Now

The Best Lease Deals This Months

These 5 Brands Are Negotiable Right Now

See Factory Order Wait Times

Buick Deals

Finance Buick SUVs (Encore, Envision, Enclave) at 3.99% APR for 72 months.

Buick Encore: $179 per month for 24 months with $3,959 due at signing

See details at buick.com

Cadillac Deals

3.79% APR for 60 months for the following Cadillac models:

  • XT4
  • XT5
  • XT6
  • CT4
  • CT5

See Cadillac listings near you.

Chevrolet Deals

Chevrolet deals
Chevy truck leases are competitive in November.

Best Chevrolet financing offer:

2.99% APR for 60 months for the Chevrolet Equinox

Chevrolet lease offers:

Chevrolet Equinox: $239 per month for 24 months with $2,279 due

Chevrolet Colorado: $319 per month for 36 months with $4,149 due

Silverado 1500 Crew Cab 4WD LT: $399 for 36 months with $3,949 due

See details on Chevrolet deals.

Chrysler Deals

Financing: No payments for 90 days.

See details on Chrysler deals.

Ford Deals

Ford deals 2022
The Explorer is included in this month’s Ford deals.

In November, Ford has lower monthly payment estimates based on Ford Credit Financing special APR offers. Contact a dealer.

For example, the Ford Bronco Sport can be financed for as low as $459/month.

Ford Explorer lease: $513 for 48 months with $4,339 due

Learn more about Ford deals at Ford.com.

GMC Deals

Best GMC financing offer:

4.69% APR for 72 months for the GMC Sierra and Yukon

GMC lease offers:

GMC Acadia: $319 per month for 36 months with $5,379 due

GMC Terrain: $249 per month for 36 months with $3,589 due

See details on GMC deals.

Honda Deals

Best Honda financing offers:

Honda Pilot: 1.9% APR for 24 – 48 months

Financing: 2.9% APR for 24-48 months for:

Accord
CR-V
Passport
Ridgeline

Best Honda lease offers:

Honda Civic: $229 per month for 36 months with $3,499 due

Honda CR-V: $319 per month for 36 months with $3,699 due

See details on Honda deals.

Hyundai Deals

hyundai deals 2022

In November, Hyundai has a great financing deal at 0.9% APR for 48 months for the following models:

  • Tucson
  • Santa Fe
  • Elantra
  • Kona
  • Sonata
  • Santa Cruz
  • Venue

Hyundai lease offers are VERY attractive, with several models at 0% due at signing.

Hyundai Venue: $259 per month with $0 due at signing
Hyundai Elantra: $319 per month with $0 due at signing
Hyundai Kona: $209 per month with $0 due at signing
Hyundai Tucson: $399 per month with $0 due at signing
Hyundai Sonata: $369 per month with $0 due at signing
Hyundai Santa Fe: $389 per month with $0 due at signing
Hyundai Kona Electric: $319 per month with $0 due at signing
Hyundai Santa Cruz: $409 per month with $0 due at signing

See details on Hyundai lease and finance deals.

Jeep Deals

Jeep leases are attractive in November.

Jeep Compass: $347 per month for 42 months with $3,799 due at signing

Jeep Wrangler: $420 per month for 42 months with $3,995 due at signing

Jeep financing: Make no payments for 90 days.

See details on Jeep deals.

Kia Deals

Kia deals 2022
The Kia Sportage is featured in this month’s Kia deals.

Best Kia financing offer:

2.9% APR for 48 months for the Kia Sorento, Soul and Forte

Best Kia lease offers:

Kia Sportage: $279/month for 36 months with $3,499 due

Kia Seltos: $249/month for 36 months with $3,320 due

See details on Kia deals at Kia.com.

Lexus Deals

Lexus financing offers:

2.99% APR for 48 months for the RX, IS and LC 500.

See details on Lexus deals at lexus.com.

Mazda Deals

Best Mazda financing offer:

1.9% to 2.48% APR for 36 months for most models.

Best Mazda lease offers:

Mazda CX-30: $208 per month for 24 months with $3,207 due at signing.
Mazda CX-5: $315 per month for 24 months with $3,314 due at signing.

See details on Mazda deals at Mazdausa.com.

Nissan Deals

Best Nissan financing offers:

2.19% APR for 36 months

  • Nissan Altima

2.69% APR for 36 months

  • Nissan Versa
  • Nissan Sentra
  • Nissan Maxima
  • Nissan LEAF
  • Nissan Kicks

Learn more about Nissan deals here.

Ram Deals

Ram deals 2022
Ram deals in November 2022

No payments for 90 days for the Ram 1500

Learn more about Ram deals at Ramtrucks.com.

Subaru Deals

Best Subaru financing offers:

2.9% APR for 48 months for these models:

  • 2022 Ascent
  • 2023 BRZ
  • 2023 Crosstrek
  • 2022 Forester
  • 2023 Impreza
  • 2023 Legacy
  • 2023 Outback
  • 2023 Solterra (electric)
  • 2022 WRX

Toyota Deals

Best Toyota financing offers:

2.99% APR for 60 months

  • Toyota Tacoma
  • Toyota Tundra

3.49% APR for 48 months

  • RAV4
  • Highlander
  • Corolla
  • Camry

Best Toyota lease offers:

Toyota Corolla Cross: $326 per month for 36 months with $2,976 due

Toyota Camry: $352 per month for 39 months with $3,033 due

Toyota RAV4: $388 per month for 39 months with $3,088 due

Learn more about Toyota deals here.

Today’s Best New Car Deals Won’t Last

With interest rates rising and inflation putting pressure on automakers and their dealer networks, the only thing that could bring better new car deals would be plummeting demand. We’ve seen signs of weakening demand and higher new car inventory, but nothing considered drastic. Expect auto loan interest rates to climb in 2023. These new car deals won’t last.

Buying a Car Soon? Check Out These Other Resources

These are the 5 car brands you CAN negotiate right now!

Thinking about factory ordering? These are the latest wait times our community is reporting.

These are the most marked-up new cars in 2022

Looking for something else? Visit our blog, or consult 1:1 with a real YAA Auto Expert to get customized help with your car deal. It could save you thousands!