A car dealer typically makes money on the sale of the car, on your trade-in vehicle and on the financing of your car loan. Combining these gives the company the best profit margins. If you get a low interest rate on your loan, the dealer is probably making up it for by offering less for your trade-in. When you're paying cash for your car, you have to visit the dealer during the times when you're likely to get the best deal.
Best Time of the Year
New car models arrive at the dealership around August or September, depending on the maker. You can easily find this out by calling the dealer of the model that you're interested in and asking when he expects to receive new models. During this time, car dealers often need to get rid of the current year's models, so you can get more of a discount, according to Bankrate.com. These cars are still new--because they've never had an owner--but they're not the newest cars on the lot. If you want to purchase the most current model, you're better off waiting until the end of the year, when the novelty has worn off and the sales rep is trying to meet year-end quotas.
Best Time of the Month
Car sales representatives have quotas that they aim to meet each month, or quotas that they must meet to earn a bonus. At the end of the month, the sale of your car could make a big difference in your rep's paycheck, so she may be more willing to cut you a deal.
Best Time of the Week
The weekends are the busiest times on the car lot, which can make dealers less likely to give you a good deal on the car, according to Edmunds.com. If you go early in the week, you'll receive more attention from the sales rep and you may be able to get a good deal from a rep who wants to get a jump start on his weekly quota.
Combining All Factors
Since you're paying with cash, you don't need to wait for a time when the dealer is offering zero percent financing. Instead, you should shop when the price of the actual car will be the lowest. In general, you'll find that it's best to go on a Monday or Tuesday, at the end of the month that new models are coming in, provided you're content to buy a new car that's not the current model. If you want the newest model, try going on the last Monday or Tuesday of the year.
Maggie McCormick is a freelance writer. She lived in Japan for three years teaching preschool to young children and currently lives in Honolulu with her family. She received a B.A. in women's studies from Wellesley College.