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How to Figure Out How Long a Car Has Been Sitting on a Dealer's Lot

The longer a new car sits on a lot, the more motivated the dealer will be to sell it quickly.

Most dealers take out loans in order to buy their inventory and they pay off a portion of the loans each time they sell a vehicle.

For each day that vehicle doesn't sell, the dealer keeps paying interest on that loan. The longer a car sits, the larger the interest cost grows.

Dealers typically don't mind paying interest for 30 or even 60 days, but when the car has been sitting on the lot for 3 months, that's when they really start getting nervous. They start worrying about losing money on the car if they don't sell it soon.

Knowing how long a new car has been on the lot will give you another weapon in your car buying arsonal.

So how do you figure out this information? There's a simple way, but unfortunately, it requires you to have pysical access to the vehicle.

Usually located inside the driver's door jamb, you will find a sticker that states the manufacture date along with some other information.

Here is what it looks like for a Ford, manufactured in April of 2005

Door Jamb Sticker

If the date is 3 or 4 months old, you will know that the dealer has had that car on their lot for quite some time and they're probably motivated to sell it. Note that cars manufactured outside the United States will take longer for delivery, so keep that in mind.

Since you need to actually see the vehicle in person before you can get this data, it may not be very practical.

An alternative would be to search listings on They allow you to filter results by how long ago the car was listed on the site.

This doesn't really give you accurate information, but it will show you which cars have been available for sale the longest. When it comes to car buying, small bits of information like this can give you the leverage you need to negotiate the price lower - and that's always a good thing.

My Recommendation for Car Shoppers

TrueCar No-Haggle and Edmunds Price Promise are the quickest way to see the lowest car prices in your area. These sites show you no-haggle prices from dealers closest to you - and the deals are usually really good. This should be the first step you take when negotiating your car price. Follow this up with my checklist to make sure you squeeze out every last bit of savings.
- Gregg Fidan

Gregg Fidan

About: Gregg Fidan

Gregg Fidan + is the founder of RealCarTips. After being ripped off on his first car purchase, he devoted several years to figuring out the best ways to avoid scams and negotiate the best car deals. He has written hundreds of articles on the subject of car buying and taught thousands of car shoppers how to get the best deals.

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