Timing is everything when it comes to buying a new or "new to you" car. If you have the option to wait, do your research first. Then plan your purchase based on the following suggestions:
Weekdays > Weekends
With fewer people on the dealer's lot during traditional working hours, you may have better luck negotiating a lower car price on a weekday. According to AutoTrader, if you show up late in the day, and know the specific car you wish to purchase, you could save a bundle: the salesperson wants to make a deal, but also wants to head home for dinner.
End of the Month
Dealers always have sales goals to meet near the end of the month, so buying then can increase your chances of saving money. Keep in mind that many dealers' sales cycles don't end until the first few days of the next calendar month. So going on the first or second day of the month might be just as good as the last day.
When a New Model Makes Its Debut
Depending on your preference, the arrival of a new model design can be very good or very bad for your wallet. If you don't mind the older model, you should be able to negotiate a larger discount because the dealer is eager to clear space. Conversely, if you've got your eye on a brand new model year—especially if the car is in high demand—it will be very tough to negotiate a price much below market value.
Hold Out for the Holidays
Holiday weekends typically come with sales and special pricing. According to a recent study, you'd have the best luck waiting until Black Friday—the number one holiday for car deals. Veterans Day, Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve or really any time in November and December are great because dealers are focused on moving out the last of their old inventory and finishing the year with strong sales.
There are still deals to be found during holiday weekends earlier in the year, so keep your eyes peeled. And don't forget, car-buying services like Autoland can help you save year round and take care of the negotiation for you—often cutting thousands off the manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) of the vehicle.
Ultimately, the goal is to buy a car on your own time and terms, not when you absolutely need a set of wheels. Your best negotiating tool is the ability to walk away and buy when you feel the price is right. Regardless of where, when, and how you shop, if you do your research and get pre-approved ahead of time, you've already kept some dollars in your pocket.