Car Deal Canada

The Best Month To Buy a Car in Canada

The Best Month To Buy a Car in Canada

Buying a car is one of the biggest purchases most Canadians will make. With the average price of a new vehicle in Canada topping $48,000 in 2022, it’s no wonder car buyers are looking for ways to score the best possible deal.


Luckily, there are certain times of the year when you’re more likely to get significant discounts, rebates, and incentives on both new and used cars. By carefully timing your purchase during months when dealerships are most motivated to make sales, you can potentially save thousands of dollars.


In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore all the key factors that determine the optimal times to buy a car in Canada. You’ll learn insider tips on timing based on new model releases, dealership sales quotas, holiday deals, and more. We’ll also provide negotiation strategies to maximize your savings once you’re ready to visit the dealership. Let’s get started!



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New Car Model Release Cycles

One of the best times to purchase a new car is in the fall when dealerships are trying to clear out inventory to make room for the next model year. New car models typically start hitting dealer lots in September and October. This means by November and December, dealers are eager to sell off remaining stock from the previous model year.

When the new models arrive, dealerships will be offering greater incentives and discounts on the outgoing models. For example, if you’re looking to buy a 2023 model, the best time is in late 2022 as the 2024 models start coming in. Dealers want to sell the 2023s to make room.

According to data from iSeeCars, the optimal time to buy is when a model is one year old. Their analysis found that one-year-old models were priced on average 1.8% lower than new models of the same vehicle. So buying a 2023 model in late 2022 as the 2024s arrive can net significant savings compared to buying new.

 

Dealership Sales Quotas

Dealerships typically have annual or quarterly sales quotas set by the manufacturer. These quotas encourage dealers to sell as many cars as possible before the year or quarter ends in order to earn bonuses and incentives from the automaker.

According to industry analysis, the average discount off MSRP during December is around 10% compared to only 6% discounts during other months. The increased pressure on dealers to meet sales quotas before the calendar flips is directly related to these steeper discounts.

Sales managers will be highly motivated to make deals and move inventory in the final weeks of December. Knowing this seasonal trend gives buyers more negotiation leverage during this time period. Dealers want to finish the year strong and will be more likely to accept a lower offer rather than lose out on a year-end sale.

 

Holiday Discounts

The holiday season from late November through December is one of the best times of year to purchase a new car in Canada. This is an incredibly popular period for car sales due to massive discounts and incentives offered by dealerships. The most notable holiday for car deals is Boxing Day on December 26th.

Boxing Day is one of the biggest shopping days of the year in Canada with huge sales at all major retailers. Car dealerships get in on the action as well, offering deep discounts and promotions to draw in buyers. It’s not uncommon to see new cars discounted by several thousand dollars on Boxing Day.

According to a report from Unhaggle, December has the highest number of car sales in Canada averaging around 140,000 units sold. That’s more than double the sales in the slowest month of January. Dealerships push to hit aggressive annual sales targets leading up to the new year.

The key benefit of buying around the December holidays is lower competition from other buyers. While dealerships are offering great deals, showroom traffic tends to be slower during this period compared to other busy times of year. This makes it easier to negotiate with salespeople one-on-one to get an even lower price.

 

Beginning of the New Year

The beginning of the new year can be one of the best times to find deals on both new and used vehicles. With the excitement of the holiday season over, vehicle sales tend to slow down in January and February.

Many experts note that dealers are eager to clear out remaining inventory from the previous year. This creates ample opportunities to score discounts, especially on new cars from the prior model year. According to data from iSeeCars.com, average discounts can be over 10% on certain models during the first two months of the year.

For used cars, prices also tend to dip after the holidays when demand decreases. Analysts from Edmunds report that used car prices typically fall by 5-10% from their peak around October-November. With less competition from other buyers, you’ll have more leverage to negotiate the price down.

The key is using slower months like January and February to your advantage. Make sure to research pricing thoroughly before visiting dealerships. Come armed with your target price based on market data. Dealers will be anxious to make a sale, so demonstrate you’re willing to walk away unless they meet your number. Taking this approach can help you score an excellent bargain even when other buyers are scarce.

 

End of the Month

Another great time to buy a car is at the end of the month. Most dealerships have monthly sales quotas that their sales teams need to meet, so they are often more motivated to wheel and deal on vehicles at the end of the month if they are behind on hitting their targets.

According to data from TrueCar, the average discount off MSRP at the end of the month is around 8-10%. This is because the dealer has extra incentive to hit their numbers, so they may be willing to take an even bigger loss on certain vehicles to get the sale.

Negotiating at the end of the month can work in your favor, but make sure you still do your research ahead of time. Know the fair purchase price for the vehicle you want and be prepared to walk away if the dealer isn’t willing to come down enough. The month-end crunch can give you more leverage if you play your cards right.

 

Long Weekends

Long weekends in Canada can provide opportune times for buying a car due to less competition from other shoppers. With many people focused on getting away for the three-day weekend, car dealerships often see lower foot traffic and sales. The lack of competing buyers gives you more negotiating leverage.

According to data from major Canadian car dealerships, showroom visits drop by an average of 18% on long weekends compared to regular weekends. With fewer shoppers, sales associates are more motivated to negotiate prices and offer discounts to move inventory.

Stats from 2019 show that new car deals were 6% lower on average during long weekends. For used cars, the average discount was around 9% compared to non-holiday weekends. With less traffic, dealers have more time to focus on providing VIP service to the serious buyers who do come in over the long weekend.

So if you’re able to shop for a car over a long weekend, it can be an ideal time to get exceptional service and significant savings versus a busy regular weekend. Just be sure to do your research ahead of time on pricing and available inventory so you’re ready to make a deal when you arrive.

 

Online Research

One of the most important steps before visiting a dealership is doing your research online. With the internet, you now have the power to access key information that can give you leverage in negotiations and ensure you don’t overpay.

Start by looking up the make, model, and trim level you’re interested in buying. Search listings on sites like AutoTrader.ca and Autotrader.com to find prices for similar vehicles in your area. This will give you a good baseline to know what a fair price would be. Consider the year, mileage, features, and condition as you compare.

You can also find invoice pricing and MSRP details on sites like Unhaggle. This shows what the dealer themselves paid for the car initially. Use this to your advantage to negotiate a better deal, aiming for somewhere between invoice and MSRP pricing.

In addition to pricing, read reviews and ratings online from trusted sources. This will help you narrow down the best vehicles for reliability and owner satisfaction. You can then go into your shopping with eyes wide open regarding any potential issues.

Online forums like Reddit can provide insider tips directly from people working in the industry. Search for threads on the best times of year or strategies to save money. But take any anonymous advice with a grain of salt.

Equipped with pricing information and consumer insights, you’ll have confidence to negotiate the lowest price once you’re face-to-face with a salesperson. Make sure to let them know you’ve done your research online when discussing numbers.

 

Negotiation Tactics

One of the most important strategies when buying a car is being prepared to negotiate the final price effectively. Many dealers will try to focus the conversation on monthly payments or down payments, but you’ll get the best deal by negotiating the total price of the vehicle first.

Here are some tips for negotiating the final price:

 

  • Research prices online for the specific car you want so you know the average price you should pay.
  • Make the first offer low but realistic based on your research. Let the dealer make counteroffers to meet in the middle.
  • Avoid discussing monthly payments until you’ve negotiated the final price. This gives you leverage.
  • Mention any competitive offers you’ve received from other dealerships to see if they can beat it.
  • Point out any flaws or wear-and-tear on a used car to ask for a lower price.
  • Be ready to walk out or move on to another car if you can’t get close to your target price. This shows you’re a serious buyer.
  • Never take the first offer. There is usually room for the dealer to come down in price.

 

Following these negotiation tips will help you save significant money off the asking price. Know your budget, research prices, and don’t be afraid to politely but firmly negotiate the out-the-door price on a car. Being ready to walk away also gives you important leverage.

 

Getting Pre-Approved Financing

One of the best ways to strengthen your position when negotiating the final price of a new car is to get pre-approved for auto financing before you ever set foot in the dealership. Having your financing already secured shows the dealer that you are a serious buyer and less likely to be swayed by their financing offers.

Pre-approval also gives you leverage to negotiate the best possible interest rate and loan terms. Dealers make a good chunk of their profit from financing and extended warranties, so they will be motivated to beat the rate you already have locked in. Come armed with a pre-approval letter from your bank, credit union, or online lender.

To get the lowest interest rate on your new vehicle purchase:

 

  • Check your credit score and report for errors before applying
  • Shop around with multiple lenders to compare rates
  • Ask about promotional financing offers from manufacturers
  • Opt for shorter loan terms to pay less interest
  • Make a larger down payment if possible
  • Compare rates for new versus used vehicle loans

 

Having that pre-approval gives you the confidence to negotiate only the final price of the car, not monthly payments or financing terms. It also ensures you won’t get stuck with a higher rate at the last minute if the dealer claims you don’t qualify for advertised financing offers.

 

Test Drives

Test driving the exact vehicle you intend to purchase is a critical step in the car buying process. Unlike browsing a dealership lot, you can get a real feel for the car’s performance, comfort, and features when you get behind the wheel. Don’t settle for test driving a similar make and model – insist on taking the specific car for an extended test drive.

If you are cross-shopping different vehicles, test drive competitors back-to-back. This allows you to make an informed comparison of each car’s driving dynamics. Pay attention to acceleration, braking, handling, cabin noise, and the overall driving experience. Take your time – don’t feel rushed. The test drive is your chance to determine if a car truly meets your needs before making a major purchase.

Negotiate the terms of a test drive in advance. Have a set route in mind that mixes different road conditions. Ask to test extra features like navigation, audio, and active safety systems. Take the car on the highway to assess acceleration and higher-speed handling. Don’t be afraid to ask questions during the test drive and have a checklist handy to evaluate the vehicle.

 

Used Car Considerations

Buying a used car has some unique factors to consider compared to purchasing new:

 

The used car market has less predictable pricing and availability. New car deals follow set manufacturer cycles, but used cars vary dealer-to-dealer. Shop around more to find the best values.

There’s more room for negotiation on used cars. Dealers have more flexibility on pricing used inventory. Come prepared with pricing data and make lower counter offers.

Inspect the vehicle thoroughly before purchase. Test all functions and look for cosmetic issues inside and out. Take it for an extensive test drive to check for problems.

Run a vehicle history report. Services like Carfax can uncover previous accidents, flood damage, odometer rollbacks and other red flags. Don’t buy used without reviewing the history.

Consider certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles. These are inspected and come with extended warranty coverage for added peace of mind.

Overall, used cars require more research and scrutiny. But you can score an affordable, quality vehicle by knowing which factors to look for.

 

Dealership Relationships

One of the best ways to get a great deal on a car is to cultivate relationships with salespeople at dealerships. Building rapport with sales staff and becoming a loyal customer can pay off when it’s time to negotiate on your next vehicle purchase.

Dealerships love return customers. It costs much less to sell to existing clients than to acquire new ones through advertising and promotions. Salespeople are often willing to offer extra discounts to loyal customers they’ve worked with before. They may even call you first when a desired model comes in.

Here are some tips for establishing partnerships with dealership staff:

 

  • Be polite and make small talk – Get to know salespeople as individuals.
  • Understand their role – They have monthly quotas and managers to answer to.
  • Don’t waste their time – Visit when you’re serious about buying.
  • Be upfront – Let them know you’re seeking the best overall value.
  • Ask for the same salesperson – Request them by name on future visits.
  • Refer friends and family – Send business their way to show appreciation.
  • Leave positive reviews – Dealers value and reward happy customers.

 

Taking the time to build rapport with dealership staff can lead to discounted prices, first dibs on new inventory, and an overall better car buying experience.

 

Saving Money

When purchasing a vehicle, saving money should be a top priority. By combining multiple money-saving strategies and tactics, buyers can maximize their savings and get the lowest price possible. Here are some of the best ways to save money on a new or used car purchase in Canada:

 

Savings Checklist

 

  • Shop at year end when dealerships are offering the biggest discounts and incentives
  • Aim to purchase on December 31st to take advantage of end of year deals
  • Negotiate the final price rather than monthly payments
  • Get pre-approved financing from your bank or credit union before visiting dealers
  • Focus negotiations around dealer invoice pricing, not MSRP
  • Be ready to walk out if you don’t receive the deal you want
  • Pit dealerships against each other to force them to compete on price
  • Buy used vehicles that are 1-3 years old once new models are released
  • Consider buying new models that haven’t sold well and have excess inventory

 

Combining strategies like purchasing at year end, getting pre-approved financing, focusing on invoice pricing, and being ready to walk out can lead to huge savings off MSRP. Savvy car buyers use multiple tactics simultaneously to maximize their leverage and get the absolute lowest price.

 

Conclusion

In summary, the best times to buy a car in Canada tend to be late fall through early winter. Specifically, October through December is prime car buying season, when dealers are looking to clear out older models and meet end-of-year sales quotas. Additional optimal times include holiday weekends like Boxing Week, the beginning of the new calendar year, and the end of each month when quotas reset.

To get the best possible deal, be sure to do your research ahead of time on pricing and available incentives. Negotiate the final price rather than monthly payments, and have your financing ready before visiting dealerships. Take advantage of lower foot traffic by shopping on weekdays and being prepared to walk away to show you’re serious. Consider buying used early in the year when prices are lower after the holidays.

By keeping these key strategies in mind, you’ll be ready to take advantage of the ideal opportunities to save money on your next new or used car purchase in Canada. Use this advice to score the perfect vehicle at the perfect price!

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Questions About The Best Month To Car Shop

The best time to buy a car in Canada is typically October, November or December. These months tend to have more rebates, incentives and clearance deals as dealerships look to move old inventory off the lot before new models arrive. Shoppers can save thousands during the fall and holidays. Waiting until Boxing Day sales can also result in big savings.

December tends to be the cheapest month to buy a car in Canada. Dealerships are eager to meet annual sales targets before the end of the year, so they offer the biggest discounts and incentives on both new and used vehicle models. Right before Christmas is an especially good time to get a great deal.



January can be a good month to buy a car in Canada. There are typically lots of leftover inventory from the previous year that dealerships want to clear out. While the best deals may have already passed in December, shoppers can still find incentives and bargains in the new year before dealerships restock the latest models.

The worst month to buy a car in Canada is generally May or June. This coincides with the launch of new model year vehicles when demand is high. Dealers have little incentive to discount the latest cars and trucks during this time. It’s best to avoid buying then unless you see a specific promotion that appeals.

2024 model year vehicles typically start arriving at Canadian dealerships around September and October. However, some popular models may arrive a little earlier in the summer. By November, most 2024 models, from trucks to SUVs and sedans, tend to be on the lot ready for purchase.

It can make sense to wait until 2024 models launch in Canada if you’re not in a hurry. Dealerships will be eager to sell off older 2023 stock to make room. You may also want specific new features only offered on 2024 vehicles. But 2023 closeout pricing can still be attractive too.

Quebec typically has the cheapest car prices among Canadian provinces. Lower sales taxes give Quebec an advantage. Albertans also benefit from a lack of provincial sales tax when buying vehicles. Buyers should comparison shop across provinces for the same models, as prices can vary.



Canadians living near the border may want to compare pricing on both sides. With the exchange rate, cars purchased in the US can potentially cost 25-30% less after fees, taxes and import costs. Just be aware of extra paperwork, delays in registration, warranty issues and recalls across borders.

The Toyota RAV4 holds its value best among all SUV models in Canada. After 5 years, a RAV4 retains around 63% of its original sticker price on average. The Honda CR-V and Acura RDX also rank high for resale value, while luxury SUVs drop more significantly.



Full-size trucks like the Toyota Tundra, Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado 1500 have the best resale value among Canadian pickup models. After 5 years, they retain around 45-50% typically. The smaller Toyota Tacoma and GMC Canyon also rank well thanks to reliability and demand.

The Tesla Model 3 holds its value better than any other electric vehicle in Canada by far. After 3 years, it retains about 70% of its sticker price on average. No other EV comes close today, but watch for the Ford F-150 Lightning and Rivian models to potentially fare better long term.

The Porsche 911 has the highest resale value among all luxury vehicles in Canada. After 5 years, it retains about 60% of its original MSRP on average. The Toyota Land Cruiser and Mercedes-Benz G-Class also rank very well. These tend to find buyers even as they age.

Leasing can make sense for Canada drivers who want to drive a new vehicle every few years without the hassle of resale. But buying results in lower monthly payments, flexibility, and the option to sell or trade in later. Run the numbers both ways before deciding what works best.

Tips for negotiating a great deal when buying a car in Canada include: knowing the real dealer cost through online resources, getting quotes from multiple dealers, securing pre-approved financing beforehand, avoiding impulse buys and attachment to specific vehicles, highlighting competing offers and being willing to walk away.



The average down payment amount for financing a new vehicle purchase in Canada is around $6,000 currently. However, it’s possible to get approved with less. Used car down payments average around $3,500. Shoppers should put down whatever they can afford to lower loan costs.

Besides the vehicle price, Canada drivers should budget 4-5% of the total in taxes, plus licensing and registration costs that vary by province. Also factor in loan approval amounts and interest rates, insurance premiums, fuel, maintenance and the down payment. Leave wiggle room for any extras too.

Reliable places to buy used cars across Canada include franchised dealers of major brands, Canadian Black Book’s Best Deal certified pre-owned dealers, independent used car lots with Service Assurance inspection policies, auto auction houses, and increasingly — online direct from owners.



Common fees to budget for when buying a car in Canada include sales tax, federal air conditioning tax, tire tax, provincial licensing and registration costs, dealer documentation fees, safety certification charges in some provinces, and charges for extras like nitrogen fills of tires, anti-rust coatings, fabric protection and more.

Important questions to ask on a Canadian car test drive include: Does anything seem unusual or concerning? How does it handle on bumpy roads and at higher speeds? Is there enough headroom, legroom and trunk space? Are the controls intuitive and easy to reach? How is the sightline visibility? Does the engine sound smooth accelerating and braking?

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