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Consumer
Smart car shoppers can drive a bargain
NEW YORK (7/24/12)--Even though auto makers have less incentive now to cut new-car prices than in previous years, there are deals to be had if you look--and shop--carefully (Smartmoney.com July 9).

There are several reasons that bargains are harder to come by. Consumer demand is high; sales are up 15% over last year, with Chrysler Group and General Motors reporting sales increases of 20% and 16% respectively. Ford Motor sales are up 7%. Auto makers have been increasing production, slowly, which means rising sales are keeping pace with what dealers have on lots. Absent excess inventory, don't expect huge price cuts.

A smart shopper still can find bargains:

  • Favorable financing. Credit is more available and financing deals are enticing. Check first with the credit union and get preapproved for a loan before visiting the car lot.
  • Attractive leases. With used-car values at relatively high levels, manufacturers tend to drop lease prices because they factor in a vehicle's expected resale price. Know your rights and responsibilities before leasing. Visit the Federal Reserve website for more. (See the resource link).
  • Model redesigns. If price is more important to you than style, shop for cars that are due for redesigns in the 2013 model year, such as Chevrolet Malibu and Impala. You'll have more room to negotiate the best deal.
If you're in the market for a used car, don't expect huge savings. It's expected that used-car prices will continue to remain relatively high through the end of the year, despite a slight decline in the past few months because of higher inventories, falling gas prices and competitive manufacturer incentives for new cars (USNews.rankingsandreviews.com June 19).

For more information, read "Intriguing New Small Cars for 2012" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.
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