Deal Finder: Car Buyers can find Great Deals in December

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By LaTina Emerson, The Shopper Deal Finder

December is best known for holiday parties, gift exchanges and spending time with loved ones, but it’s also an excellent month to buy a new car. Consumers can save hundreds or thousands of dollars on a new car or truck during year-end sales events, according to experts from Kelley Blue Book and AAA.

AAA recommends waiting until the end of December, particularly between Christmas and New Year’s Day, to make an offer on a new car or truck. As the end of the year approaches, dealers and automakers are under pressure to meet monthly and annual sales goals, and they want to move unsold inventory off their lots. They’re often willing to lose money to carry as little inventory as possible into the new year.

The best days for car buying are during the last week of December, mainly Dec. 30 and 31, Kelley Blue Book reports.

Here are some additional tips for getting the best deal on a new vehicle:

Do Your Homework
To get the best deal, consumers need to know as much as possible in advance about the vehicle they would like to purchase, including the sticker price, standard equipment level, options, colors, trims, incentives, rebates and financing options.

Esurance reports that car buyers should never pay the sticker price, also known as the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP). They should visit sites such as Edmunds.com and KBB.com to find out how much others in the area are paying for that vehicle. Buyers should also get quotes from several dealerships and use all of this information to negotiate the best price.

Dealers make most of their profit from financing loans, so it’s best to secure financing before going into the dealership. Contact several banks and credit unions to find the best rate.

Purchase at the End of the Month
It’s not always possible to wait until the end of the year to purchase a new vehicle. Consumers can land a great deal throughout the year if they wait until the last two or three days of the month to negotiate, according to Kelley Blue Book.

At the beginning of the month, consumers should check the automaker’s website to find out about incentives being offered on their preferred vehicle. They should visit the dealership between the 16th and 20th of the month but wait until the last few days of the month to finalize the purchase.

Buy the Previous Model
When newer models hit the market, the prices on older models are reduced. Buying the previous model versus the current model can save thousands of dollars. Sometimes the changes between current and previous models are small, such as new interior and exterior colors.

Generally, new models arrive in September and October. Consumers could land big deals if the previous model is selling slowly, maybe because potential buyers are awaiting the arrival of the redesigned vehicle. Redesigns could include restyled exterior sheet metal, new features or even a new engine and transmission that improve fuel economy.

However, there are some tradeoffs for buying an older model. The desired features or color might only be offered in the redesigned model. Also, the resale value will be less compared to the new model, according to Kelley Blue Book.

Take Advantage of Holiday Sales
Holidays are a great time to score a deal on a new vehicle. Automakers offer significant rebates and special financing during holiday sales events. In addition to the Christmas season, big savings are offered during the Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day holiday weekends.

Inspect the Car and Take a Test Drive
At the showroom, consumers should do a preliminary inspection of the vehicle, which includes looking under the hood, evaluating the cargo space, sitting in the driver and passenger seats and getting a demo of the features, according to Esurance.

Before committing to buying a vehicle, whether in person or online, it’s important for buyers to test drive the car or truck to make sure it meets their needs. They should take their time (instead of rushing or allowing someone else to rush them through the experience) and drive for about 30 minutes. During the test drive, buyers should get the feel of the driver’s seat, drive in different environments, listen to the engine, pay attention to the smoothness or bumpiness of the ride, check visibility in all directions, try out the features, experiment with parking, and test acceleration, braking and steering, Esurance reports.

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