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When you're not sure, refer to this handy, helpful list.

Best Times to Buy a Car | CarMax

What are the best times to buy a car?

You’ll probably know when it’s time for a fresh set of wheels. But just in case you’re not sure, we can help. Here’s a list you can use to determine some of the best times to buy a truck, car, SUV, or new-to-you vehicle.

When your old car’s on life support

Everyone’s been there — if you’ve owned a car long enough, your upkeep costs will start to surpass the cost of your monthly payments. While you might really love your old car, it might make financial sense to check out a newer vehicle.

It’s tax time

The first few months of a calendar year are when many taxpayers receive tax refunds. A refund check, combined with a down payment or the proceeds from selling a car, can be used for a down payment on a new-to-you dream car or truck.

You’ve got impending nuptials

Best Times to Buy a Car: Married | CarMax

When you’re getting married, it’s a great time to replace your car. Fresh start, fresh wheels!

You’re really looking forward to a rearview camera

Best Times to Buy a Car: Back-up Camera | CarMax

If you’ve owned your car or truck a long time, you’re missing out on cool car features that help make your commutes and errands easier. Things like cooled front seats, Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto® compatibility, rearview cameras, and blindspot monitoring.

Surprise triplets!

Best Times to Buy a Car: Triplets | CarMax

You're having triplets? Congratulations! When your family's growing by leaps and bounds, it's a good time to consider upgrading to a 3 row SUV. There are plenty of car-seat-friendly cars out there, and lots of best ranked SUVs with 3 rows of seats to hold new family members.

For revenge

Yep, we went there. The best revenge cars have swanky features to bring out your inner braggart should circumstances require. Think powerhouse engines for gunning or sporty soft-tops for showboating. 

You just became an empty-nester

Best Times to Buy a Car: Empty Nester | CarMax

The kids have moved out and you’re on your own — now might be the perfect time to downsize. Perhaps a fun, jump-in-and-drop-the-top vehicle, like a Mazda Miata or a Jeep Wrangler Sport.

You just got promoted

They say it’s a good idea to dress for the job you want. Once you’ve landed that coveted gig, why not drive the part, too?

The seasons are changing

Best Times to Buy a Car: Winter | CarMax

Maybe you need something more capable for tackling snowy roads this winter. The latest best all-wheel-drive cars have lots of traction, plus plenty of features like heated front seats for making your winter drives more comfortable.

You started a band

Best Times to Buy a Car: Band | CarMax

You and your friends won’t fit inside your trusty Honda Accord, and it’s time for something more cavernous and road-trippable, like a Ford Transit or E-150. Something that’ll hold all of you, plus your axes, keyboard, bass drum, snare, and cymbals. Rock on!

Some more reasons for opting into a new-to-you car:

  • You’re tired of slugging (tagging along as a ride-share passenger — “slugging” is common in the Washington, DC, area) and it’s time for your own wheels.
  • You won the lottery.
  • It’s your birthday.
  • Zombies are coming.
  • You just want a new-to-you car!

As you can see, the best time to buy a car depends on your situation. When you’re ready to buy, here are some more resources that can help.

Unless otherwise noted, information relating to these featured vehicles comes from third-party sources, including manufacturer information. Product and company names may be trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of third-party entities. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by these entities.