The Best Time to Buy a Used Car in California
The Best Time to Buy a Used Car in California: A Savvy Shopper's Guide
If you’re a savvy buyer (we know you are, why else would you be at Express Auto Auction?) then you’re looking for ways to save money without sacrificing quality all the time.
They say timing is everything, and that applies to car buying too. A frequently asked question is, "When is the best time to buy a car?"
At Express Auto Auction, the answer is any time! 😀 But seriously. Let’s explore the best times to buy a used car to maximize your savings.
End of the Month and Quarter
One of the most well-known strategies for getting a great deal on a used car is to shop at the end of the month or the end of a fiscal quarter (March, June, September, and December). A common rule used by dealers is that if the car hasn’t sold within 60 or 90 days, it’s sent to the auction.
Understanding that timing can help you know when to check the inventory at Express. Auction lots work differently from dealers. I mean, cars are so cheap and bidding can get so competitive that cars with a lot going for them don’t stay here for long. 🚗
A car that is not running and needs a lot of work may still sell just as fast as cars in great condition, because of the parts.
Does this mean when it rains harder or the wind stops, or the temperature rises, that cars are cheaper? No, but that would be interesting!
We’re talking about “slow months”; when fewer people are in the market for a used car. You can expect prices and the volume of bids to drop in the fall and beginning of winter, never mind that much of California has anything like a real fall and winter.
Dealerships usually want to clear out older inventory before the end of the year (October, November, and December), creating opportunities for you to snag a better deal at auction on a newer or recently fixed car.
Spring will typically see a significant increase in the prices of convertibles, road trip-friendly vehicles, and other summer-appropriate cars. Let’s be honest, sunny southern California, including San Diego where Express Auto Auction is located, had a year-round need for these cars. 😎
Similarly, acquiring an all-wheel-drive vehicle during the summer is a smart choice since demand, and more importantly, prices, peak during winter.
Auto auctions, like Express Auto Auction, break these rules sometimes, depending on inventory, since prices are so low at auctions and there is a constant demand for cars at those prices.
Know what cars are good for. Everything at Express Auto Auction is good for something, even if it’s just parts. But they might not be good for driving on a regular basis: Here are the used cars to avoid.
Holiday Sales Events
Major holidays, such as Labor Day, Memorial Day, Black Friday, and year-end clearance sales, often bring substantial discounts and promotions on used cars. 🤑
Dealerships and lots in California use these events to attract customers and move inventory, making it an ideal time to hunt for bargains, as you can bet some of that inventory will go to auctions. Remember, though, you aren’t the only savvy buyer and others are paying attention to Holiday sales events, browsing Express Auto Auction for newly listed vehicles.
In addition to those traditional sale dates, a great holiday to look at is the new year. As the year draws to a close, lots make one last push to meet annual sales goals. This can lead to fresh inventory and excellent deals.
Buy Before and After New Number Plates Come Out
Purchasing a car just before or after the new number plate registrations become available can be a smart move. Why? Because many individuals hold off on their purchases to obtain a vehicle with the latest plate, meaning they’ll say goodbye to their old vehicles in the months around those new plate dates.
Consequently, auction lots see a larger intake in these months, creating a wider selection for potential used car purchasers.
August/October and February/April are the best dates to check out our auction lot, since plates change on September 1st and March 1st in California.
Timing is Everything
Recapping, Express Auto Auction is rotating through inventory year-round. We receive cars mainly from donations, which speaks to their quality (read about auction lot quality here).
By paying attention to all the above; shifts in inventory, when people are buying, when prices go down, etc. you can be indirectly plugged into when our Southern California auction lot will receive new inventory.
Our online auctions are every Wednesday at 9 AM pacific. More info here!