"black friday" is back, the official unofficial start of the holiday shopping frenzy, and this year like every year, car dealers and manufacturers use it as a hook to drag you and your tryptophan hangover into their dealerships to buy a new car. such is the state of our consumer culture, but this year you could be feeling even more pressure.
that's because black friday falls on november 29, which is only one day before the end of the month. and we all know that the best time to buy a car is at the end of the month when dealers put aside their decades of experience and start selling cars below cost just to meet sales goals. or not. let's admit it: dealers know their business.
it's also late in the year, when dealers are looking at their leftover 2019 models and plotting ways to clear out that soon-to-die inventory, and soon you'll be drowning in "december to remember" promotions.
so it's a convergence of timing and holiday for car buyers. but don't go nuts. this isn't presidents day in february when people start getting their tax refunds and dealers want to soak up that free-floating cash. nope, as always, the best thing to do is get serious while everyone else is giddy.
go ahead and google "black friday" and whatever manufacturer strikes your fancy. you'll often find that the link that screams about black friday deals leads to a website that's silent about the day. instead they're featuring promotions built around the entire holiday season. there's no urgency to sign a deal on black friday, because the next day is saturday, and the offers aren't likely to change. even if dealers are offering, say, 40 percent off on a car you want if you buy on black friday, you can ask for that same deal the next day or the next week and stand a good chance of getting it. their deadline doesn't have to be yours.
dealers are playing the long game. they've been in the business a while and are keenly aware of how buying patterns vary during the year. after all, there was a thanksgiving and a black friday last year, too.
remain calm, relax, and apply a few simple strategies for getting a good deal.
look in the back
first, it is late in the year. so look for vehicles that have been in dealer inventory a while. don’t expect these to be the hot sellers like the hyundai palisade or specialty beasts like the audi rs7. instead they're the forlorn puppies hanging out in the back of the lot, but don't let that dissuade you: they may be just what you need. the trick here is the information sticker found on the driver's-side door jamb. it shows the month of manufacture, and if that's extended out five or six months, that vehicle has been lingering on the lot way too long. so make a lowball offer; there's no shame in asking.
do your research
second, there may be some real deals buried in all the hype. so scour the web, maybe look at a newspaper, and pay attention to the big signs hanging over dealerships and their websites. you're more likely to find a great deal if you're out looking than you are just to stumble across one.
get financing in order
third, shop for your financing before you enter a dealership. interest rates at the moment are ridiculously low. so don't get sucked into paying more than you should for the money to buy your next vehicle. call a bank, ask at your credit union, and know your credit rating. then go to the dealer and let them try to top your best offer. right now, many manufacturers are backing zero-interest financing. and when you get to zero percent, there's no reason not to take out the loan even if you have cash to buy the car outright. think back to your economics class and the principle of net present value.
that noted, don’t let the financing distract you away from finding the lowest price. if you’re paying too much for a vehicle, what’s the point of low financing? you need to aim for both a low price and cheap money. if you don’t get both, walk out of the dealership and call an uber.
understand your own negotiating style
and finally, always be mindful of your own limitations. you can be fooled, you can be irrationally exuberant at times, you can do something stupid. self-awareness is always your most precious asset in any negotiation.
yeah, those four tips aren't much different from the advice you'll get the rest of the year. that's because black friday isn't that much different from the rest of the year. if you want to get a real black friday deal, go to walmart and buy a cheap flat-screen tv. you may suffer several contusions, sprains, and broken bones fighting the crowds, but at least you can be sure the deal is a real one.
happy thanksgiving. now calm down.