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The best and worst times to buy a used car

Matthew Zietara looks at a new Honda Civic in Cerrito, Calif. According to iSeeCars.com, Black Friday is the best day to buy a used car.
Matthew Zietara looks at a new Honda Civic in Cerrito, Calif. According to iSeeCars.com, Black Friday is the best day to buy a used car.
Published Jun. 19, 2016

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is known for being one of the busiest shopping days of the year. 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 some 40 million used car sales from 2013-2015 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, 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," said Phong Ly, CEO at iSeeCars.com.

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 Jr. 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, the month of November, the month of 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 Mother's Day; the months of April, May and June; Easter; Good Friday; Memorial Day; Father's Day; and the month of 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, increasing supply and prompting dealerships to cut more deals.

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.