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Car shopping: Boxing Week, spring a good time for deals

Published December 7, 2012

Several Wheels readers have asked me about the best time of year to buy a new car. Many factors come into play in trying to answer that question.

The best time to buy really depends on your individual circumstances, which are sometimes not by choice. It may be due to your present vehicle being involved in an accident and repairing the vehicle is not an option. Another example is when repair costs are prohibitive and again it is not by choice but is out of necessity, regardless of the time of the year.

But if you have the luxury of time, then spring is a great time to buy. Here is why. In February, the Canadian International AutoShow allows consumers the opportunity to see what’s new and exciting with every manufacturer.

This is the largest automobile trade show in Canada and arguably the finest in North America. What better place to research your next purchase? Once spring arrives, the roads are free of the winter elements and conditions are great for driving a new vehicle. Manufactures put their best incentives into the marketplace and dealers are hungry to drive sales after the slow and long winter.

Another great time to buy is when a new model is about to be introduced. Traditionally, this would happen in October, but now manufacturers introduce new models throughout the year.

It’s important to read trade journals to see when new models are going to be arriving in the showrooms. The past models will have great deals to clear the current inventory out and make room for the new models. There are usually substantial savings to be had.

December is an especially favourable time of year to buy. For dealers, December marks the end of the calendar year for their businesses, when sales managers are anxious to meet year-end sales targets, achieve bonuses and earn bragging rights.

In the past 15 years, Boxing Week has become a huge selling week in the retail car business, with manufacturers and dealers offering incredible deals on new and pre-owned vehicles in an attempt attract customers and to end the year on a positive note.

Getting a great deal (at any time of the year) sometimes requires some compromise on the part of the customer. For instance, you may have your heart set on a specific make and model, only to discover that it doesn’t fall within your budget or availability is a problem.

Not to despair. With today’s vehicles, there is so much parity in quality, standard features, performance, warranty, safety and fuel efficiency that you’re bound to find a great deal on a similar model within your budget.

I would never encourage anyone to buy a vehicle that didn’t meet all of their driving needs and budget requirements, but if buyers are prepared to choose their second option, they won’t be disappointed.

That’s why I advise car shoppers to prepare a short list of two or three models before they start visiting dealerships. This gives them flexibility and leverage when it comes to making that all-important buying decision.

As part of the research, it’s also advisable for consumers to know what the hot selling models are, and to know if the dealer is overstocked with a certain model. This information could provide you with some leverage when negotiating, especially towards the end of the year.

So, if you are in the market for a new vehicle, don’t let the festive season turn you off from buying a new vehicle. There are plenty of great deals to be had: the advertisements in this Wheels section provide ample evidence of that.

This column represents the view of TADA. Email president@tada.ca or visit tada.ca. Frank Romeo, president of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association, is a new car dealer in the GTA.

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