Timing Matters When You're Car Shopping
Car shopping has become something of a science. If you time your purchase right, you could save thousands off the sticker price, while buying during certain times of the month or on the wrong day can cost you. Here's a look at when you might find the best deals on a new set of wheels.
Contrary to what the ad campaigns would suggest, weekends generally aren't the best time to buy a car. Three-day or holiday weekends like Presidents Day may offer exceptions, but don't get stuck thinking this is the only time to find a great value.
Instead, skip the weekend rush and consider buying during the week. Statistically, shopping on a Monday tends to save buyers an average of 8 percent off the retail price. Weekdays also make it easier to get prequalified by the bank, which can increase your negotiating power.
Most dealerships and manufacturers incentivize with monthly and quarterly goals. The more eager they are to hit their numbers, the more leverage you have to negotiate. Catch them at month's end as the sales cycle comes to a close and you could walk away happy.
Markdowns for certain vehicles may also be available during different months of the year. For example, May is a popular month for SUV sales, and you're more likely to find bargains on trucks and full-sized pickups in the fall.
At the end of the year, dealerships are probably working to clear out current models to make space for the next year's lot. You could find Black Friday deals in November as well as holiday offers throughout December.
Dealership discounts fluctuate quickly, but that could work to your advantage. Either way, with a little flexibility you may be able to land the car you want at a reasonable price.
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How to Get the Most out of Your Tires
Your car's tires won't last forever, but with regular attention you can keep them in good shape for several years. Here are a few ways to check on your tires each month to extend their performance and stretch your initial investment -- all while staying safe on the road.
Even if your vehicle has a tire-pressure monitoring system, manual checks are still important. Under- or overinflated tires can lead to accidents, damaged tread and increased fuel consumption.
To check the pressure yourself, wait until your car has been parked and cooled for two to three hours. Find the sticker on the inside of the driver's side door or consult your owner's manual to confirm your make and model's recommended pounds per square inch, measure with a pressure gauge, and add or release air as needed.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, tire tread measuring 2/32 of an inch or less puts you at risk. To check the tread, hold a penny so that the top of Lincoln's head faces the tire, then lower it between the treads. If he's mostly covered, you're in good shape for now. If his head is fully exposed, your tires are worn down and need to be replaced.
Because rubber degrades over time, many experts recommend replacing tires at 10 years no matter what. Examine the manufacture date code when following this suggestion, not the purchase date. Look for an embossed string of letters and numbers on the tire's sidewall; the last four digits after "DOT" indicate the week and year the tire was made.
When it comes to maximizing tire life, a little bit of preventive maintenance could be the key to avoiding premature wear and ensuring a safe ride.