What is the best time to buy a car in Canada?

By Arthur Dubois | Published on 18 Jul 2023

A man holding a BMW car staring

You’ve decided to take the financial leap and buy a car in Canada. But have you assessed how your timing will impact your budget? Choosing the right time to make your purchase can save you a substantial amount of money. 

In this article, we will discuss the best times to buy a car in Canada and how you can maximize your savings. So buckle up and let’s dive into the world of car-buying strategies!

Timing Your Purchase: The End-of-the-Day Advantage

When considering the timing of your car purchase, an often-overlooked factor is the end-of-the-day advantage. As dealerships near closing, salespeople generally look to wrap up their day, making them more inclined to make deals swiftly. They may not be in the mood for extended negotiations and could potentially offer you a favourable price immediately. This can pay off well for buyers. So, go in well-rested and ready for a post-dinner negotiation that could result in an excellent deal on your new car.

Making the Most of End-of-the-Month Sales Targets

Many dealerships have monthly sales targets that they strive to achieve. As the month draws to a close, salespeople may feel more motivated to hit these targets and meet their sales quotas. 

This can work to your advantage, as they negotiate a lower price or throw in some extras. This could mean getting a lower price on the car you want. Otherwise, you may receive extra perks, such as free upgrades, extended warranties or discounted maintenance packages.

Unfortunately, not all dealerships operate on a monthly sales target system. However, for those that do, the end of the month can make for an opportune time to score a great deal. It’s worth doing some research to find out if the dealership you’ll approach follows this practice.

The Best Day of the Week to Buy a Car: Sunday to Tuesday!

According to a study conducted by TrueCar, Sunday stands out as the prime day for securing a new car. In fact, these sales yield an average discount of 10 percent off the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP). This pattern, drawn from U.S. statistics, should remain valid for Canadian buyers due to similarities in dealership sales tactics across both nations.

However, according to Carfax, Monday and Tuesday rank as the best days to buy a car. During these early weekdays, showrooms tend to be quieter, affording salespeople ample time to engage with potential buyers. As a result, they can answer questions and negotiate favourable deals unhurriedly. Additionally, this makes financing more accessible as lenders typically work on weekdays.

Contrastingly, TrueCar has identified Thursday  as the least favourable day for purchasing a new vehicle, offering the lowest average savings. Since many consumers receive their paychecks on this day, it could lead to an influx of buyers. Consequently,  dealerships feel less motivated to offer competitive prices.

Reap the Benefits of Year-End Discounts

As the calendar year comes to a close, dealerships clear out inventory, making it one of the best times to buy a car in Canada. That way, they can make room for the new models that are about to hit the market. Year-end discounts can be substantial, allowing you to score a fantastic deal on a brand-new car. Keep an eye out for promotions and incentives offered by dealerships during this time. To move things along, they often sweeten the deal with additional savings or special financing options.

While year-end discounts can seem enticing, still do your research and compare prices from different dealerships. Just because a dealership offers a year-end discount doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best deal available. Take the time to shop around, read reviews and compare prices to get the best possible offer.

Lastly, keep in mind that year-end discounts don’t just apply to new cars. Many dealerships also offer discounts and incentives on used cars during this time. If you seek a pre-owned vehicle, exploring year-end sales can turn up a reliable car at a more affordable price.

Strike a Deal During New Model Releases

When new car models hit the showroom floors, dealerships keenly showcase their latest arrivals and attract customers. This enthusiasm can work in your favour when it comes to negotiations. 

Salespeople may stay more willing to negotiate a lower price on the previous year’s models to make room for the new inventory. If the latest features and upgrades don’t make your priority list, last year’s model can befriend your budget.

Leverage Summer Car Sales Events

Summertime is not just for road trips and beach vacations. This season also makes for a great time to buy a car in Canada. Many dealerships host summer car sales events, offering attractive discounts and promotions. 

As the demand for cars tends to rise during the summer, take advantage of these sales events to get a better deal. Compare prices across different dealerships and negotiate to secure the best price possible. 

Leveraging the Slow Winter Months

The cold winter months in Canada slow down car sales, particularly during the holiday season. With fewer customers flocking to the dealerships, salespeople may negotiate more willingly and offer discounts to close a deal. 

According to Edmunds, October through December offer the deepest discounts of them all. This comes second to the period from May to September. Keep in mind that you might see a more limited inventory during this time. However, if you stay flexible with your options, you might snag a great deal on a leftover model from the previous year. On the other hand, you could drive home in a popular model that the dealership particularly wants to sell.

Making the Most of Black Friday Car Deals

Not only electronics and appliances go on sale during the infamous Black Friday. Car dealerships also join in on the shopping frenzy by offering special deals and discounts. If you’ve been eyeing a new ride, Black Friday can create an opportune time to strike a deal. Look for advertisements and promotions leading up to this day. Next, be prepared to act quickly to secure the car you want before the inventory runs out.

When NOT to Buy a Car in Canada

While we’ve discussed the best times to buy a car in Canada, it’s equally important to know when to wait. During these periods, you might want to hold off on your purchase.

Immediately After Payday

The euphoria of payday often makes us more prone to impulsive decisions and car dealers are well aware of this pattern. Buying a car right after payday, either on Thursday or Friday, you might be inclined to stretch your budget. Further, you may become less hard-nosed about negotiating the best deal. Instead, wait a few days to think carefully about your budget. Remember that the initial excitement of a larger bank balance can lead to hasty decisions.

During High Demand Periods

At certain times of the year, demand for cars surges. In summer, for example, often sees a spike in sales as Canadians prepare for road trips or other holiday travel. The start of the school year can also prompt many to seek new vehicles for commuting or as gifts for college-bound students. During these periods, high demand can reduce the dealership’s motivation to offer significant discounts, making them less ideal times to buy.

Upon Release of New Models

The allure of a brand-new model car can tempt you. However, buying a car immediately after its release might not work in your best financial interest. During these times, dealerships capitalize on the excitement and offer fewer discounts or promotions. If you can resist the urge to have the latest model immediately, waiting a few months can often yield better pricing. Later, the initial excitement subsides and dealers look to move inventory.

During Tax Refund Season

In Canada, tax season typically concludes by the end of April. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) issues refunds within two weeks for those who file online. Meanwhile, that period extends to 8 weeks for those who file a paper return. This means that Canadians that filed their taxes close to the deadline usually receive their refunds from mid-May through June. Car dealerships know that many buyers have fresh tax refunds and may feel less inclined to negotiate during this time. Instead, delay your car purchase until this period passes, allowing for potentially better negotiation leverage.

Tips for Negotiating a Car Purchase in Canada

Now that you know the best time to buy a car in Canada, here are some tips to help you negotiate the best deal:

Do Your Research

Before heading to the dealership, research the make and model you’re interested in, as well as its market value. Furthermore, factor in the cost of insuring your preferred vehicle, as it can significantly impact its overall cost of ownership. You can use an online car insurance comparison tool to do so. Having all that information on hand will give you confidence and help you identify a fair price.

Be Patient and Flexible

If you’re not in a rush to buy a car, patiently wait for the right deal to come along. Flexibility with your preferences, such as considering different models or colors, can increase your chances of finding a great deal.

Understand Your Financing Options

Before stepping foot into a dealership, ensure you have a clear understanding of your financing options. This includes being aware of the minimum credit score required to get a car loan. Recognizing your budget limits and understanding the precise terms of your loan make a huge difference. This will safeguard you from falling into unfavourable conditions during negotiations, landing a deal that aligns with your financial capabilities.

Resist Pressure to Purchase Insurance

Lastly, don’t succumb to pressure to purchase additional insurance from the dealership if you don’t need it. For example, many dealerships will attempt to sell you a life insurance policy to cover the car’s value in case of your death. Remember, their primary business is selling vehicles, not providing insurance. Instead of accepting their offer immediately, compare quotes from various reputable life insurance providers

The Bottom Line

Timing your car purchase in Canada can make a significant difference in the price you pay. Avoid buying a car during peak periods – like tax refund season or immediately after the release of a new model. At those points, demand rises and dealers have less motivation to negotiate. Opt instead for off-peak times, like late in the month, when dealers offer better deals to meet their sales targets. Happy car shopping!

Arthur Dubois is a personal finance writer at Hardbacon. Since relocating to Canada, he has successfully built his credit score from scratch and begun investing in the stock market. In addition to his work at Hardbacon, Arthur has contributed to Metro newspaper and several other publications