best car dealsEveryone buying a new car wants to get a bargain and a great deal. So where can those deals be found?

Although we’ll be primarily discussing brand new cars here, we can make some comments on used cars, if that’s the direction you think you want to go.

Used Car Deals

Finding a great deal on a used car is a bit more tricky than finding a new-car deal. That’s because used cars are, well, used. No two are alike. Even used cars of the same year, same brand, same model, and same equipment can have different mileage, different problems, may have been driven and maintained differently, may have been wrecked (or not), and may have very different prices for these and other assorted reasons. When you find a used car at a bargain price, it might be for a good reason — or the buyer may simply be desperate — or it could be a common scam, especially if bought online. Therefore, it takes much more care when buying used.

You should also know that used car prices are currently at all-time highs, such that it’s possible in some cases to get new brand cars at the same or better prices than late model used cars of the same or similar brand. This has come about due to a shortage of used cars (people hold on to their cars longer in a poor economy), and the fact that car companies and dealers are offering attractive new-car incentives to encourage customers to buy. These incentives come in the form of large rebates, 0% APR loans, bonuses, and special lease deals. See Best Car Deals for more details.

New Car Deals

The best new-car deals are on those brands and models on which car companies are offering incentives, as we mentioned earlier. The new-car market is very competitive right now. Car manufacturers and dealers are fighting to get customers’ attention and sales by offering some of the best deals we’ve seen in years.  These are the kind of deals that customers can’t possibly negotiate for themselves in a dealer’s office. Vehicles of nearly every make (except some luxury brands) are currently being offered with incentives on at least some models and styles.

Lease deals are incredibly good at this time. This is made possible when a car company discounts a vehicle’s price (lease cap cost), reduces the finance rate (lease money factor), and boosts the vehicle’s lease-end value (residual value). All combined, these factors make for the lowest possible monthly payments for the vehicle. A good lease deal is not measured by monthly payment alone. It is measured by the total lease cost compared to the value of the vehicle. Here is a Lease Deal Calculator that can do that job for you, letting you evaluate any lease deal or compare different lease deals.

The best lease deals (at time of this writing) are being offered by BMW, SmartCar, Honda, Toyota, Cadillac, and Nissan/Infiniti. Expect to see a higher level of special lease deals coming from American car companies during 2012.

The best and largest rebates and 0% APR loan deals are coming primarily from American car makers — Chrysler (Chrysler, Dodge, Ram,  Jeep), Ford (Ford, Lincoln), and General Motors (GMC, Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick). In most cases, you can’t take both a rebate and a 0% APR loan deal. You have to choose one or the other. In cases where the rebate is at least $2500 or more, it’s better to take the reabate over the loan deal. Rebates are also better if you are short of cash because the rabate can act as a down payment.

Summary

If you are looking for a great new-car deal, look no further than your local car dealers who are offering special incentives backed by their car manufacturing companies. Check with the Best Car Deals web site as well as car company web sites for current deals. Most special deals expire at the end of the month, to be replaced (maybe) with new deals that might be better, or worse, than the current deals.

You can get free price quotes for any brand of vehicle at Edmunds.com. The prices you get will contain price discounts and manufacturer incentives if currently available.

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