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New Year, New Car?

Posted on Wednesday, December 28, 2011 at 9:39 am

Many people take advantage of year-end automotive incentives to trade in their cars for something shiny and new. There’s a good chance that incentives will be even more enticing this season thanks to events that occurred in early 2011.

The earthquake and subsequent tsunami that ravaged Japan in March 2011 impacted the production and supply of many vehicles. Furthermore, many “domestic” cars are built or are comprised from parts that are made outside of their native countries. Therefore, it’s not just Japanese brands that have been affected by extreme weather this past year.

What this spells out in dollars and cents to the average consumer is the ability to save some money on a new car simply because automotive retailers are looking to move merchandise and recoup some of the losses from earlier in the year. Many automakers are extending incentives until the first few months of 2012 to capitalize on post-holiday spending. Some industry experts predict low interest rates, competitive rebates and other wheeling and dealing to attract customers. Although the sales prices may be available, customer interest might still be tepid because of the ongoing recession. However, there just may be ample opportunity for those with spending cash to save on a new vehicle.

When heading to the dealership, keep these tips in mind.

* Know the invoice price on the car by doing your research. It will help you negotiate the lowest price available.

* Don’t appear too anxious to buy a car at a particular dealership. Tell the salesperson you’re shopping around.

* It’s best to negotiate for the lowest total price of the car, NOT the lowest payment. Sales strategies often enable salespeople to work the numbers to get you your payment. But that could mean a longer loan term, which would raise the overall cost of the car due to interest.

* Check out the safety reports and crash test ratings of the vehicle you’re considering. Also, research the resale value if you’re not planning on keeping this car for a long time. It could make a difference in the make you select.

* While some dealerships may not be open to negotiating price, they may be offering a low interest rate, which can save you money. Also, certain extras could be included for no cost.

Now could be the time to see record-low prices on vehicles as dealerships try to move leftover inventory and recover from the slump in production caused by last year’s tragic earthquake in Japan.