Best New Car Deals – and 7 Tips to Drive a Hard Bargain

Photo (cc) by p_c_w

If you’re in the market for a new vehicle, there’s bad news for car dealers that means good news for you.

Labor Day weekend was supposed to bring a flood of buyers into showrooms across the country. The experts predicted that a recession’s worth of pent-up demand would be unleashed over the holiday. Instead, “It was the worst August for U.S. auto sales since 1983,” according to one this Associated Press News report.

Granted, the cash for clunkers program was fueling sales last August, making this August a tough month for comparison purposes.

Not all the news was bad for automakers. Chrysler reported sales rose 7 percent in August. But GM sales fell 11 percent. So if you don’t have a fierce brand loyalty, seek out the models that are selling slowly but are still highly rated.

For instance, while GM sales dropped 11 percent, its Chevrolet division dove 22 percent. Yet the Chevy Malibu has earned good reviews and is currently offering deep discounts. Ditto with many Toyota models – sales are down a whopping 34 percent 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 recent headlines.

In short, dealers aren’t doing well, so deals abound.

Where the deals are

Here’s the Consumer Reports list of the best deals on 2010 models. To get complete information, however – like the bottom line price – you’ll have to sign up with Consumer Reports.

Here are some of the promotions currently being offered, according to this article in US News and World Report:

  • Buick, GMC, Cadillac, Chevrolet: 0% financing available on many models, rebates of up to $3,000 on some – expires 11/1/10
  • Ford, Lincoln, Mercury: 0% financing on most models, rebates of up to $2,500 on some – expires 10/4/10
  • Honda: 0.9% to 2.9% financing on some models – expires 11/1/10
  • Nissan, Infiniti: 0% financing on many models – expires 9/30/10
  • Toyota: deals vary in different areas, but 0% financing is common on some models – expires 10/4/10

Here are some quick tips to get you started driving that hard bargain…

1. Financing first

Whether you’re shopping for houses, cars or anything that’s going to require borrowing money, always get approved for financing before you start. That way you’ll know in advance what you qualify for and be “fully funded” when you start your search: that enables you to pounce on a great deal if you see one. We have a car-loan search tool that will help you find the best rates where you live. Also check with local banks and credit unions to see what they’re offering. And watch this news story that explains exactly how to find the best car loan.

2. 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.

3. Go online and bypass the salesman

Edmunds, Kelly Blue Book, MSN Autos, Yahoo Finance, Consumer Reports: all great sites to get information, reviews, financing tips and pricing on new cars. But you can use the web for more than just finding a car: you can use it to buy one as well by pitting local dealers against one another.

Once you decide exactly what car and options you want, here’s what you 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 or others.

After joining one of the above sites to gain access to their buying service, you’ll be able to see real prices on real cars from real dealers in your area – before you provide your contact info. 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.

4. Beware the hidden fee

Like many businesses these days (think airlines), car dealers will often try to pad their profits with all manner of fees: destination fees, documentation fees, title fees, licensing fees, registration fees – the list is long. Demand a written list of every fee and tax before you buy and attempt to eliminate as many as possible. Here’s an Edmunds list of the most common fees and what they mean.

5. Investigate incentives

In the good old days (for dealers, that is), incentives were rare and modest. Not anymore. The big one this month is the end-of-the-model-year incentives to clear the lots for new inventory – see the list above. But some dealers might also offer discounts to new college grads, military members, and repeat buyers. So be sure to ask.

6. Consider the costs once you drive off the lot

So you want a small car because it’s more fuel efficient? That’s great. But realize you might pay more for insurance. And high-tech cars sound more reliable, but they actually lead to more costly repairs. Before you buy, check not only the price of the vehicle, but also the cost to insure it and repair it, as well as its reliability.

7. Consider “Pre-Owned”

Finally, if you’re still not sure about a new car, consider used. Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson has never owned a new car – he drives an $80,000 Mercedes he bought for $20,000. He explains why he always buys used here. And if you’re looking for a bargain-priced used car, he tells you how to find one in the this story: 8 Tips for Buying a $5,000 Car.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
10 Things You Should Never Buy on Amazon
10 Things You Should Never Buy on Amazon

Just because you can purchase something on Amazon doesn’t mean that you should.

14 Uses for WD-40 That Save Money, Time or Headaches
14 Uses for WD-40 That Save Money, Time or Headaches

WD-40 is handy in a lot more situations than you likely realize.

11 Home Upgrades With the Best Payback in 2020
11 Home Upgrades With the Best Payback in 2020

The home remodeling projects that deliver the best bang for the buck tend to have one thing in common.

10 Items Every First-Aid Kit Should Have
10 Items Every First-Aid Kit Should Have

Take control of your health and safety by customizing your own first-aid kit with these Amazon purchases.

Never Buy These 10 Things With Your Credit Card
Never Buy These 10 Things With Your Credit Card

Credit cards offer many conveniences and protections, but sometimes it’s simply smarter to keep the plastic tucked away.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership
How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership

The warehouse club often has some of the cheapest gas in town. Here’s how you can get it as a nonmember.

10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home
10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home

If you like to keep things simple, avoid these purchases.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

Vacuums from this brand can last a half-century, if not longer — and they’re hot on the resale market.

A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today
A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today

A few steps can keep your phone from ringing when a spammer calls.

This Company Makes the Best Tires in America
This Company Makes the Best Tires in America

Driver satisfaction with tires is at an all-time high, but one brand stands out.

Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?
Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?

Knowing when to claim can help you maximize benefits.

36 Things That Will Be Obsolete Soon
36 Things That Will Be Obsolete Soon

The writing is on the wall for dozens of things we have grown up with.

This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance
This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance

One type of pain is especially associated with cognitive decline.

8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon
8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon

The giant retailer shines when it comes to these things, from basics to hard-to-find specialty goods.

8 Federal Income Tax Breaks for Homeowners
8 Federal Income Tax Breaks for Homeowners

Some of these deductions and credits are available to a wide swath of homeowners.

Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs
Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs

Don’t let these health care expenses catch you off guard in retirement.

10 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday
10 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday

These items are steeply discounted — but the deals won’t last long.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food
5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food

Anyone can take advantage of these resources.

10 Types of Retirement Income That Are Not Taxable
10 Types of Retirement Income That Are Not Taxable

There are lots of things Uncle Sam can’t touch — so long as you play by the rules.

6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home
6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home

Stashing money around the house is anything but harmless.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.