Purchasing Last Year’s Model

by Jim Thompson | Last Updated: January 11, 2021

We all know that buying last year’s model is the smartest thing you can do… right? It’s cheaper, AND you get a car with virtually all the same bells and whistles as the latest and greatest thing.


Often, this is true. We highly recommend that you check out last year’s model. However, we don’t recommend that you do so blindly. Here are a few things to know before you head out to the dealership determined to buy the previous year’s model.

The Advantages

We’ll start with what you already know, which are all the reasons that starting your search for a new car with last year’s model is a brilliant idea.

  • The cost – There’s no way around it. Most dealers will sell last year’s model cars for a serious discount to make room for new inventory.
  • Deals and incentives – Often, last year’s models are subject to deals and discounts that just don’t come with new cars.
  • Trade-in options – A trade-in gives you a serious bargaining chip, which means that last year’s model only gets that much cheaper.

The Disadvantages

While we actually do recommend that you give last year’s model some serious thought, we don’t want you to ignore that fact that there are some real disadvantages to buying a previous year’s model. Some of those disadvantages include:

  • Style, safety features, and comfort. Yes, we know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, it’s only skin deep, and it simply takes a back seat to safety. However, we merely want to point out that you may have fewer body style and color options to choose from with older versus newer cars. More importantly, however, is the fact that the safety features may be updated in newer cars, not to mention that they may be more comfortable. If you can afford it, the newer cars may be worth a look. Or, they may not. It’s up to you.
  • Resale value. You will likely pay less for last year’s model… and you’ll likely get less yourself when you go to trade it in or resell it.

That’s it? Those are the only disadvantages? If those don’t sound like good reasons not to purchase last year’s model, then we have more advice: when to buy.

Best Times to Buy

The best time to buy last year’s models are:

  • At the end of the year. This is when dealers want to make room for new inventory. Your best bet may be Christmas through the first few weeks of January, when dealers become desperate for more room and to meet last year’s quota.
  • Labor Day weekend. This is a heyday for sales and the time many summer models are needing to be cleared.

Shop around and see if last year’s model works for you!