7 tips to drive a hard new-car bargain
Great deals can be found on new cars. Here's where to look, along with buying tips that could save you thousands.
If you're in the market for a new vehicle, bad news for car dealers can mean good news for you.
Last month was the "worst August for U.S. auto sales since 1983," according to an Associated Press report, prompting dealers to offer bigger incentives for new-car sales.
Granted, the Cash-for-Clunkers program fueled sales last August, making this August a tough month for comparison purposes. And sales were not uniformly bad. Chrysler reported that sales rose 7% last month, compared with the year before. But GM sales fell 11%. Post continues after video.
Your best bet: If you don't have fierce brand loyalty, seek out highly rated models that are having slow sales. For example, GM's Chevrolet division saw sales drop 22%, and now offers deep discounts on the Chevy Malibu, which has good reviews. Ditto with many Toyota models: Sales are down a whopping 34% from last August. Obviously, that's due to the numerous recalls as well as the economy, but even well-reviewed Toyota models that haven't faced recalls have been tainted by the headlines.
In short, dealers aren't doing well, so deals abound.
Here are some of the promotions currently being offered, according to U.S. News & World Report:
- Buick, GMC, Cadillac, Chevrolet: 0% financing available on many models, rebates of up to $3,000 on some -- expires Nov. 1.
- Ford, Lincoln, Mercury: 0% financing on most models, rebates of up to $2,500 on some -- expires Oct. 4.
- Honda: 0.9% to 2.9% financing on some models -- expires Nov. 1.
- Nissan, Infiniti: 0% financing on many models -- expires Sept. 30.
- Toyota: Deals vary in different areas, but 0% financing is common on some models -- expires Oct. 4.
Consumer Reports also lists the best deals on 2010 models. To get complete information, however -- like the bottom line price -- you'll have to subscribe.
Here are some quick tips to get you started driving that hard bargain:
Join the club. Membership has its privileges. If you signed up for AAA because you wanted roadside protection, you also get access to vehicle research and member pricing. Same thing if you have an American Express card or belong to certain unions and trade organizations. Many community banks and credit unions can also hook you up with new- and used-car buying services, research and special pricing.
Once you decide exactly what car and options you want, here's what to do: Go to a site called Zag.com and pick one of the sites affiliated with this buying service, such as Consumer Reports, Overstock, USAA , American Express, among others.
After joining one of the above sites, you'll be able to see real prices on real cars from real dealers in your area -- before you provide your contact information. That means you'll be able to pick which dealers you'd like to work with before the bidding process begins.
Once you've decided which dealers you'd like to compete for your business, you simply tell them what you're looking for, then see who comes back with the best price -- no salesmen, no high-pressure tactics, no worries. Once you've gotten the best possible price, go to the dealership and pick up your new car.
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