Check calendar before car shopping

Patricia Sabatini
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Pittsburgh — Black Friday is known for being one of the busiest shopping days of the year, with long lines and frenzied chasing of early-bird, door-buster deals on everything from clothing and toys to big screen TVs.

Now it’s time for bargain hunters to think even bigger.

Black Friday happens to be the best time to snag a deal on a used car, according to a study by iSeeCars.com.

The car-buying search engine analyzed roughly 40 million used car sales from 2013-15 to find the top 10 best times, and worst times, to get a good deal.

The site compared holidays and other specific days of the year, plus months of the year and days of the week, to pinpoint when consumers found more or fewer deals than average. A deal was defined as saving 5 percent or more.

“It’s always nice to save money,” said Phong Ly, CEO at iSeeCars.com. “And when you are buying something as expensive as a car, saving even 5 percent of your purchase — or $952 off the average price (of a used car) of $19,040 — can really add up.”

After Black Friday — which offered 33 percent more deals than average — the next best times were Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Columbus Day and Martin Luther King Day. Most of those holidays typically aren’t thought of as big shopping days. Ly explained that three-day weekends were a good opportunity for dealers to pump-up promotions.

Rounding out the top 10 were: Christmas Eve, November, December, Christmas and New Year’s Eve, which offered 21 percent more deals than average.

On the flip side, the Fourth of July was found to be the worst time to buy a used car, offering 28 percent fewer deals than average. The next worst times were as follows: Mother’s Day, April, May, June, Easter, Good Friday, Memorial Day, Father’s Day and July, which found 12 percent fewer deals.

As months go, the five-month stretch from April to August was the worst time for finding used car deals, while November, December and January were the best.

“After the current new model year comes to a close around August, consumers start trading in their used cars in higher quantities,” Ly said..

For car buyers who can’t wait until the end of the year, shopping on weekdays was slightly better than on a weekend, while the first day of the month offered more deals than the last day. The fifth day of the month was the worst.

That’s because dealerships typically end the sales month a few days into the beginning of the next month, Ly said.

“Much like the end of the year, dealers are probably trying to make some last-minute sales to meet their monthly goals,” Ly said.