Automotive

Best time of year to buy a used car?

  • Last Updated:
  • Aug 1st, 2017 9:46 am
[OP]
Member
User avatar
Oct 28, 2005
260 posts
32 upvotes

Best time of year to buy a used car?

Hello fellow RFDers and deal finding experts,

I am in the market for a used 2013-2014 Toyota Venza or RAV4 with low mileage (<50,000 km). My budget is about $20k. I am wondering:

1. Is there a good time of year for buying a used car when demand decreases and supply increases?

2. Should I focus my search on dealers or private sellers (kijiji)?

Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.
13 replies
Deal Guru
Jun 30, 2006
13849 posts
2364 upvotes
Toronto
The good time to buy is when you really need it. Obviously the longer you wait the cheaper the price. Dealers will charge more, you need to know what the book value is vs. market price. Use vmrcanada.com
Deal Addict
Jan 5, 2003
3344 posts
2559 upvotes
Toronto
There is no cyclical timing for used cars. Especially if you have a certain make/year/trim level that you want, you have to know what a good price is, then keep watching Kijiji, Autotrader, etc. like a hawk for one to show up at that price, then snatch it up before someone else does.

You can try chatting with the used car manager at Toyota dealerships and let them know what you're interested in, so when a trade-in comes in that matches your requirements, they can give you a heads up. They're usually happy to make a quick sale, as used cars isn't a big portion of their business (compared to new cars and service) and the longer a used car sits in their lot, the more the value depreciates. Expect to pay more at a dealership vs. privately, but then you won't have to wait as long. I wouldn't be surprised if a busy Toyota dealership gets maybe five or more '13-'14 RAV4s and Venzas traded in per month.
Penalty Box
User avatar
Apr 15, 2011
5731 posts
1111 upvotes
aGincourt
Used cars get cheaper and cheaper over time as they are depreciating assets, theoretically the longer you wait the better deal you get. But the "best" time to buy a used car is before/after winter. The reason being, not many people will go out to take pictures, meet with potential buyers, go for test drives, etc, when it's cold and snowing. There are more used cars during the spring/summer so you have a better selection.

As for private vs dealer...

Private = Cheaper, riskier, possibly can get scammed

Dealer = Typically more expensive, cars typically better (Possibly warranty, dealership putting their reputation on the line, dealership offers a CPO thing

Used car section at a dealership =/= used car lots
Member
Sep 24, 2004
376 posts
35 upvotes
Scarborough
Having bought 2 used cars through Kijiji in the last 3 years, I'll repeat what carmaster said "The good time to buy is when you really need it"

A few things to keep in mind
1. Watch out for rebuilt cars. A few months ago when I was looking for a Honda Civic, I found tons of rebuilt cars out there. Some put it right in the ad, others didn't
2. Depending on if you're a smoker or not. With all due respect to smokers, ask if the person is a smoker. Even if they don't smoke in the vehicle, but the vehicle does smell if they jump in right after smoking
3. Look out for vehicles brought in from QC
4. Ask if they have pets, again a personal preference
5. Any accidents
6. Reason why they're selling
7. If the vehicle is leased or financed. Buy-back cost at the end of the lease.

These were some of the things I asked.
Deal Expert
User avatar
Aug 18, 2005
16874 posts
1812 upvotes
GTA West
If you want to try a dealership, try end of the month, when they are trying to meet their month end sales targets.

Christmas week can be good as well, due to low demand from other buyers, salesmen desperate for more Christmas money, and year end sales targets.
- Not Collecting AIR MILES Since 2016/07 -
- Casual Gastronomist -
[OP]
Member
User avatar
Oct 28, 2005
260 posts
32 upvotes
After reading all your helpful comments, I'm now more inclined to look at Toyota dealerships. I assume I'm expected to bargain the advertised price down by about 10%?
Deal Addict
User avatar
Jan 10, 2004
2931 posts
559 upvotes
Edmonton
I'd say winter months are harder to sell in, so possibly better deals. (At least privately) For dealers, hard to say. Lots of new car sales, results in lots of used cars. But dealers often own multiple brands, so easy for them to move stock around to sell best.

From experience, used cars are generally marked up fairly well, but can really vary from vehicle to vehicle. A dealer might have been trying to make a sale and paid a premium for a trade, or lowballed and still made the sale and have lots of room to move. Too many factors to figure out yourself... you should be able to tell on average if the price is fair.

Generally, doesnt hurt to try low, you can always work your way up. There is blackbook and vmronline on the web for free, and as well goldbook available through some libraries but those really are wholesale costs and dont really tell the whole picture.
Newbie
Feb 17, 2017
46 posts
4 upvotes
If you're spending 20k, I would not take a chance with a private seller as you have almost no rights if something goes wrong. If you buy from a dealer, you have a lot of rights in case something goes wrong within 30 days. Some dealers will also offer extended warranties built into the price.

When I bought my 25k car, I went to dealers only. But when I bought my 6k beater, I looked for private sellers only as there are a lot of good deals to be had.
Deal Addict
Mar 16, 2010
1617 posts
126 upvotes
m4r 1k8
U4IA wrote:
Jul 30th, 2017 9:16 pm
I'd say winter months are harder to sell in, so possibly better deals. (At least privately) For dealers, hard to say. Lots of new car sales, results in lots of used cars. But dealers often own multiple brands, so easy for them to move stock around to sell best.

From experience, used cars are generally marked up fairly well, but can really vary from vehicle to vehicle. A dealer might have been trying to make a sale and paid a premium for a trade, or lowballed and still made the sale and have lots of room to move. Too many factors to figure out yourself... you should be able to tell on average if the price is fair.

Generally, doesnt hurt to try low, you can always work your way up. There is blackbook and vmronline on the web for free, and as well goldbook available through some libraries but those really are wholesale costs and dont really tell the whole picture.
not always the case ... if hes going for Rav4 or Venza summer is a better time as they tend to be AWD or "SUVs made for winter blah blah blah"

Id go for venza and go for 10-15% off the sticker price .. why? Venza is a discontinued car you can bring up issues of paint thinning out as reported by other people etc rav4 is and will be a hot item i doubt theyd go for it maybe 5% yeah ..
Member
User avatar
Dec 28, 2010
255 posts
83 upvotes
A dealership can come up with a sales pitch for any car for any season. A dealership needs turnover, the more the better and commissions are paid monthly. So towards the end of the month gives you a better negotiation position. Toward the end of the year even more. You have the best position if you have patience and check all resources you can find.
Actions speak louder than words
Deal Guru
Aug 22, 2011
14537 posts
3868 upvotes
Ottawa
For private sales, right before the winter, as sellers (especially those with limited parking) will not want to store the vehicle out on the driveway or on the road.
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Oct 24, 2004
5475 posts
675 upvotes
Toronto (Central)
In the used market, the only time you might save money is when it's a seasonal purchase - convertible/motorcycle - then consider the late fall/winter.
Deal Addict
Oct 27, 2007
1284 posts
25 upvotes
Swswswish wrote:
Jul 29th, 2017 7:58 pm
Used cars get cheaper and cheaper over time as they are depreciating assets, theoretically the longer you wait the better deal you get. But the "best" time to buy a used car is before/after winter. The reason being, not many people will go out to take pictures, meet with potential buyers, go for test drives, etc, when it's cold and snowing. There are more used cars during the spring/summer so you have a better selection.

As for private vs dealer...

Private = Cheaper, riskier, possibly can get scammed

Dealer = Typically more expensive, cars typically better (Possibly warranty, dealership putting their reputation on the line, dealership offers a CPO thing

Used car section at a dealership =/= used car lots
I agree with most of this. Winter can sometimes be an advantage for buyers though if someone is choosing to sell their car in Winter, they probably are more desperate to sell it than in Spring or Summer. Especially, if they have limited parking space.

I am wondering what you (and others) think of 'used car lots.' There seems to be a lot on kijiji and also autotrader. At least, for used cars <$10K.

I also agree with looking for a dealer for a car around $20K in price and for the cheaper cars ($5/6K), try to find it used, first.

Not for 'what might go wrong after sale' but because the dealers are marking it up to make a profit where as the private seller is just marking it up since they are either A) anticipating low-ballers and negotiations that bring down the price and B) emotional attachment. But, if a private seller is serious about selling, you should be able to tell after communication and the price will probably come down more than dealers but I guess it all depends on the dealer (which someone said?).

I kinda object to the recommendations to check vmrcanada, though. Their figures seem really inflated if you compare the black book and KBB. Even Autotrader has a section for trade-in value and the vmr site has the same car/model/kms etc. valued much higher than all of the other sides. I seem to recall reading about complaints regarding it. I would quote the black/blue books just in case the seller is aware of the vmr.

Top