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What is a Leftover Model?

Towards the end of each year, it's common to see car commercials touting great deals on leftover models. These are vehicles that have not yet been sold when the next year's models start arriving on dealer lots.

The new models usually start arriving between August and November of each year, but some arrive much earlier so don't assume leftover models are only found towards the end of the year.

For example, there were several 2012 models that arrived as early as April of 2011, including the BMW 7-Series, Ford Focus, and Ford Mustang. Manufacturers want dealers to sell leftover models as quickly as possible so they don't take demand away from the newer models.

One key aspect of leftover models is that there are limited quantities. The manufacturer typically stops production a month or two before the new models arrive on dealer lots, giving themselves time to re-tool the factories for the next model year.

Since there is a diminishing supply of leftover models, car shoppers need to weigh the consequences of waiting too long against the likelihood of price discounts. Typically, the longer you wait to buy a leftover model, the better the deal.

But there are two downsides to waiting too long: First, the colors and options you desire may not be available since the least desirable units are left for last. Second, the longer you wait, the less the car is worth due to depreciation.

A leftover model is essentially treated as a 1 year old vehicle, even if the model year is current. Therefore, it's not a good idea to buy one unless you plan on keeping it for more than 5 or 6 years. Otherwise, the depreciation cost will be hard to absorb.

The advantage to buying a leftover model is, of course, the deep discounts you can get. I've seen cash rebates and hidden dealer incentives as high as $10,000 on some slow-selling leftover models - usually ones that have been sitting for months, and sometimes even over a year.

But this doesn't mean that every leftover model will come with a great deal. Some leftover models sell well without the need for incentives, especially if the next model year is a carryover. The best deals on leftover models are found when the new model has been redesigned. This usually occurs once every 4 to 5 years.

If you don't mind driving an older design, and plan to keep the car for a long time, your best bet is to buy a leftover model when a redesign occurs.

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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