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10 Sneaky Tricks Car Dealers Use at End-of-Year Sales

Don't fall for these car dealer tricks.

Young car african female salesman giving a key from the new car to the beautiful young african couple owners

End-of-the-year car sales: too good to be true?

The end of the year is often the best time to find deals on cars, but what are car dealers doing to entice buyers to stop into the showroom? Find out some common tricks car dealers will use with end-of-the-year sales to unload inventory to make room for new models.

car dealership showroom

Know which year they want to unload

Matt Jones, a former car salesman, wrote for Edmunds that the end of a model year is a great time to find a deal on a car. Deals will start to pop up around Black Friday, and the last week of the year can be an ideal time to shop for a car. Manufacturers tend to have more incentives around this time, too. Just beware that lots can have two years of a vehicle, so go with the older one for the better deal.

Couple choosing car, man and woman looking on various cars in dealership salon
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Not all cars are discounted the same

Trucks and SUVs likely won’t see many discounts, but sedans will see discounts as redesigned models replace older ones. The previous year’s model of a redesigned vehicle is ripe for the picking for deals. Ever wonder if leasing is a better deal than buying? Read through these things your car dealer won’t tell you when leasing a car.

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It might not be the end of their fiscal year

While car dealers might offer end-of-the-year sales, the truth is that the end of their fiscal year is not the actual end of the year. Real Car Tips reports that many car manufacturers use March 31 as their fiscal year end. Make sure you know the cars you should—and shouldn’t—buy used.

Car model on notebook and mouse on wooden desk. About car business concept such as transportation, rental, sell and buy

Dealer websites

Some dealer websites will ask you to enter your zip code. The reason for this is to pull up regional incentives.

Beautiful young couple signs documents at dealership showroom.

They want to close a deal fast

New Year’s Eve can be the best day of the year to buy a car. TrueCar found you can save up to 8.3 percent on the price of a car if you buy on New Year’s Eve. That’s because it’s the last day a dealer has to meet monthly and yearly goals. They’ll want to move cars as quickly as possible. This is the best time of the week to buy a new car.

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They offer gift cards for test drives

At the end of the year, dealers will go the extra mile just to get people in the door by offering a gift card to people that take a car for a test drive—the thought being that once they’ve got someone in the door, they might convince them to buy a car.

Loading broken car on a tow truck on a roadside
Nejron Photo/Shutterstock


These days you can find some crazy-sounding warranties—some places even have a ten-year, 150,000-mile limited warranty. Pay attention to the wording, especially the use of the word “limited.” Warranties typically cover the big ticket items but not the regular maintenance items. Don’t let a warranty sell you on a vehicle or think you’re getting a deal. Make sure you know these signs that you’re about to fall for a bad car deal.

Car keys on desk with man signing purchase documents in background. Closeup of black modern car keys while hand complete the insurance policy or rental documents. Guy buying new car at dealership.

Financing deals

Car ads will scream zero percent financing to you from time to time, especially when dealers are trying to unload inventory, but that doesn’t mean everyone is eligible for zero percent financing. It’s typically available to people with excellent credit scores (700 or better).

Beautiful couple smiling while examining a new car in a motor show with salesman. Mature salesman showing new luxury car to man and woman in showroom. Happy couple with cardealer showing new features.

Car dealers and manufacturers push cars they want to get rid of

It might sound like the best deal out there, but you will want to think twice about why a dealer or a manufacturer is pushing a specific model of car. Sure, it’s a little cynical, but there’s usually a reason why a car doesn’t sell. Find out what happens to the cars that never get sold.

Sales Manager shows the woman new cars in the showroom
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Hidden rebates or dealer cash

Depending on where you live, some car dealers will offer dealer cash deals to move inventory. If a manufacturer sees there is a lot of inventory in a specific region, they might pass on rebates to dealers to get the cars moving. The dealers can sometimes pass the savings on to customers in the form of steep discounts. Next, learn some simple tips for how to outsmart a car salesperson.

The Family Handyman
Originally Published on The Family Handyman