October is a great time for vehicle shopping

Dealers and customers alike would like to get the deals done before temperatures drop and the snow flies

Have we got a deal for you!

That’s the message in many of the ads for 2019 cars and trucks that are appearing on TV, in the newspaper and on social media this month. The message is right on target because October is a good month to buy a 2019 vehicle for a number of reasons.

“Dealers who are always being proactive are looking at their inventories, trying to make room for the new 2020 models that are coming out going into the fourth quarter of the year,” says Giaco Ruffolo, vice president and general manager at PALMEN MOTORS. “So October is really a pretty pivotal month.”

“Usually the factory incentives are strongest in this time frame,” says Danny Shutts, general manager at RUSS DARROW TOYOTA in West Bend. “They tend to roll them back a little bit going into winter – in the Midwest anyway – because people just don’t go out as much to buy cars.” Ruffolo agrees with that. “We have manufacturers deals and incentives from all the franchises we deal with. This is probably one of the highest levels of incentives and rebates we’ve seen…even during the course of this good run we’ve been having.”

While some manufacturers have begun introducing their new models earlier and rolling them out over a period of several months, October is still a good time to buy, says Mike Walsh, new car manager at SOERENS FORD in Brookfield. “October is really fantastic time because it’s almost your last chance before they’re gone on many of the outgoing model years.” With deals including zero percent financing for 72 months, sometimes “stackable cash,” or extra rebates on top of that, prospects are good for customers, he says. Those deals appeal to both bargain hunters and payment shoppers – those looking for low monthly payments, he adds.

Dealers also note that it’s a good time to buy trucks or fleet vehicles because of the variety of incentives. “For people who have commercial businesses, this might be the time of the year to start thinking about things for the winter months,” said Ruffolo. “Businesses wonder if the vehicle they have now is going to need repairs over the winter or if now is a good time to start looking. We tend to prepare before the storm hits.” Says Walsh: “If somebody is in the commercial market, it’s a good time to take action before the end of the year while there’s still a good selection.”

Another reason October is a good month is the same for individuals as for commercial businesses. Many dealers still have a good selection, while others may be down to just a few vehicles of a particular model, particularly when the 2020 models roll out.

“In October, there’s usually plenty of inventory left, but if you wait until November or December, there’s just not much left so you’re probably not going to get the car you really want,” says Shutts.

“Selection gets thin once the model year rolls over,” says Walsh. On the other hand, while you may not find the exact color or options package you want, says Ruffolo, sometimes you can buy a 2019 vehicle with more options than you had anticipated at a pretty good price.

“They may make a sacrifice or maybe take a vehicle that has more options than they want, but it could still work out as a better savings as opposed to waiting for a 2020 model,” Ruffolo says.

Some customers may want to wait as long as possible for the best deals, dealers agree, but that may not always work out. “If they show up in November looking for a year-end clearance, they’ll find they missed it by a month,” says Walsh. “That’s not a 100% on every product, but more and more new models have these weird intros and rollouts.”

The other factor to weigh in holding off and waiting for better deals is that the deals may go away while the value of your trade-in may decrease, Walsh says.

Dealers contacted for this story say customers don’t seem too worried about prices going up because of various tariff proposals that may or may not happen. They’ve heard the buzz in the national media and among some dealer associations, but customers don’t seem very concerned.

“It may be in the back of their mind, but they’re not saying anything about it,” says Shutts.

“Until the dust settles, no one knows where it’s going to end up for sure,” Ruffolo adds.

One final reason that October is a good month to buy a car or truck? Dealers don’t like shoveling snow off the 2019 vehicles on their lot any more than consumers like cleaning off the vehicle in their driveway.

“The weather’s typically still good in October, but by November or December, it’s not a good time to shop for a car since they may be covered in snow,” says Shutts. “Typically dealers are just a lot more aggressive in this two to three month period, but especially in October. It gets tiresome going out there every other day and cleaning cars.”

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