How to find the best deals on new cars, used cars and leases

Closeup side view of mid adult couple sitting in a brand new car at a local dealership.

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The supply chain issues that fueled so much of historic inflation last year have hit the auto industry particularly hard. No category was spared, as record prices, long waits and limited choice prevailed in the new, used and rental markets. Much like in the housing sector, legions of frustrated car buyers have been waiting in hopes that 2022 will bring relief.

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It turns out that they waited in vain.

All three segments of the industry are still as understocked as they are overpriced, but some drivers just can’t wait any longer. To help them navigate this rocky road, GOBankingRates asked the experts how to strike a deal in a market where rebates are well hidden.

Buy new? Make them fight for you

According to Edmunds, an incredible eight in 10 car buyers paid above list price for new cars in January – $728 above MSRP in January, compared to $2,152 below MSRP in January 2021. , the days of walking into a dealership and playing hardball are over – at least for now. Want a deal? Start a bidding war.

“The best advice for getting the best deals when buying a new car is to pit two different car dealerships against each other,” said Zach Wimpey, chief operating officer at Craig and Landreth Clarksville, a used car dealership in the Louisville area. “Dealers are generally very competitive. If they got to know another player in the game, they would give you a much better deal just to beat their competitors.

Eduarda de Paula, CEO of FindByPlateagrees, but advises making sure your divide and conquer strategy involves dealers close to each other.

“Competition among dealers is always high, and neighboring dealers are always trying to outdo each other,” dePaula said. “You can play them against each other by quoting the price from dealer to dealer. Then bring the counter offer to the first. This will help you get the best price.

Second-hand market: go back in time, go private or buy out of season

If you thought the new car market was tough, the used market was brutalized more than anything else last year, and the pain is only getting worse. An ABC affiliate reported that cars under $15,000 are getting harder to find, and starter cars that should cost $10,000 are fetching up to $20,000. Edmunds reports that three-year-old cars now generally outsell brand new versions of the same model.

So the trick is to shop just beyond that three-year threshold.

“New cars especially lose a lot of their value in the first few years, so the best way to get a good deal on a car is to look at cars that are at least 4-5 years old,” he said. said Patrick McCann. of “These cars often still have low mileage, with full main dealer service histories and are very unlikely to have any issues or require major maintenance for many miles to come.”

Another good bet is to target cars that have languished on the market for a long time.

“If it’s been on sale for a long time, you’ll have more negotiating room,” Wimpey said. “If sellers don’t get an offer for their cars immediately, they lose optimism, giving buyers the advantage of negotiating terms.”

Since cars with five-figure mileage now routinely outsell new cars, consider distinguishing between new and used with a certified lightly used model.

“If you’re on a budget but want to buy a car that’s both affordable and very reliable, I suggest you take the time to research a Certified Pre-Owned vehicle,” said co-founder Kathleen Ahmmed. of USCarJunker. “These cars are a great choice for buyers on a budget, as they are usually inspected to ensure they are in good mechanical condition, in which case they end up being resold for a fraction of their original price. good thing about them is that they also come with a limited factory warranty.

McCann thinks most of the deals aren’t hiding in dealerships, but in the private market on sites like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace.

“Finding local people listing their cars privately allows you to get the best deals because there’s no middleman who’s going to take a cut,” McCann said. “Private sellers are also very easy to negotiate and will often lower their asking price if it means you’ll take the car and pay that day.”

He recommends riding and trading on weekends. “That’s because that’s when most normal people are on vacation and have time to put their car up for sale,” McCann said. “Good deals don’t last long, though, and I find the best deals go out the same day.”

Another great tip is to shop when the style you like is out of season. “When demand is low, dealers tend to cut prices to drive sales,” dePaula said. “Depending on the type of car you choose, there will be times when the price will be reduced due to low demand. For example, you can get cheap convertibles during the winter season.

With leases, shorter terms are better

If you’re leasing, resist the siren song of lower payments in exchange for longer terms.
“You should choose a shorter lease to get the best possible deal,” Wimpey said. “A longer contract lowers the monthly price, but you end up paying more than a shorter rental contract.”

Wimpey said longer leases are more expensive because they factor in depreciation – but that’s not the only reason shorter is better.

“When you choose a short-term lease, you’re essentially indicating that you’ll pay off quickly, which lenders and dealers view favorably,” dePaula said.

Finally, shop through the inventory they have – not for the model you want.

“You can get great deals on leases by researching stock cars,” David Clelland, automotive and technology expert and founder of Infiniti Tracking. “This means that the vehicle is in stock and ready to be financed by the provider. They have a high approval rating and are an affordable option. »

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About the Author

Andrew Lisa has been writing professionally since 2001. An award-winning writer, Andrew was previously one of the youngest nationally distributed columnists for the nation’s largest newspaper syndicate, the Gannett News Service. He worked as a business editor for amNewYork, the most widely distributed newspaper in Manhattan, and worked as an editor for, a financial publication at the heart of New York’s Wall Street investment community. .