best car dealsAs this is being written, this year, 2011, has become the best time to buy a new car in years. And 2012 looks to be even better.

In normal years, we would tell you that the best time to buy a car is when sales are slow at the end of the month, end or the year, or during vacation season. We would tell you that you might still have to negotiate your prices because dealers aren’t just going to give you a good deal because they like you.

BUT……..things are much different now. Sales have been slow for over a year and are still slow right now. As a result, we are now seeing some of the biggest and best car incentives on new cars that we’ve seen in years. Nearly every car manufacturer is now offering a combination of large factory-to-customer rebates, low-interest loan deals, 0% APR loans (even on long 72 month loans), special lease deals, free maintenance, and “secret” factory-to-dealer rebates that dealers usually give to customers.

Why has 2011 become such a good time to buy a car?

For a number of reasons.

First, the economy seems to be improving, if every so slowly, and car makers and dealers are anxious to give things a little push. They are offering attractive incentives as a way of convincing potential buyers to take action.

Second, even though there are people buying new cars, the market is smaller than a few years ago. This means there’s fewer cars to be sold and the competition among dealers and car makers is tremendous — to the benefit of automobile consumers.

This is a good time to buy because many of the deals are the about as good as they can possibly be. You can’t get lower than zero percent interest on a loan. You can’t get lower than a manufacturer’s cost to build a car and expect them to stay in business. You can’t much better on special car lease deals that give you a deeply discounted price, combined with a low money factor and high residual. Some even kick in free scheduled maintenance for a couple of years.

Another factor creating the outstanding car-buying opportunities right now is the “Toyota Situation.” Toyota’s unfortunate problems and Japanese earthquakes have caused a big slowdown in Toyota car sales. Most other car makers have tried to capitalize on the situation by offering some very attractive incentives. It’s like a feeding frenzy. Now Totoya, who is solving their problems, is offering some of the best incentives in their entire history in attempting to restore customer confidence and recover sales.

If you are looking for 0% APR loan deals, nearly every manufacturer has them on at lease some of their models and styles. Even if 0% is not available, other very low-interest loans are being offered.  Furthermore, the deals are being offered even on long-term loans, which has been rare until now. You might already know that you’ll need a good credit score to get these 0% APR deals. If you don’t know your latest credit score, you should.

If you’re looking for great lease deals, Honda and Toyota come to mind. In fact, nearly all non-American brands have special car lease deals now. American brands (Chrysler, Ford, GM) haven’t quite come back to leasing after losing so much money on leases in the last few years.

Big rebates, however, are available on many brands, including American brands, and especially on leftover 2009 vehicles. Chrysler, Ford, and GM rebates are very attractive, as are those from Hyundai/Kia, Mazda, Nissan, and Mitsubishi. See Best Car Deals for more details on current new-car incentives and deals.

So if you are in the market for a new car and looking for the best time to buy your new car, NOW is a good time to buy. It might get a little better later in the year — and maybe not.

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