Best Car Deals

What Are July’s Best Car Deals?

July marks the heart of the summer car-buying season. It’s a great time to visit dealerships, take test drives, and purchase a new ride. This month is an especially great time to buy, as dealer lots are packed with new models, and automakers are offering excellent financing and generous cash back incentives to maintain a healthy sales pace.

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Last Updated: Jul 10, 2019

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Not long ago, zero percent financing deals were said to be going away. If this July is any indication, the rumors of their demise were greatly exaggerated. There are zero percent deals on vehicles ranging from the affordable 2019 Nissan Sentra to the 2019 Toyota Sienna minivan to the 2019 Cadillac XT4 luxury subcompact SUV.

Finding exceptional new car deals takes some research. You need to know what a good deal is, how to find it, and how to compare the various deals you encounter. Then you’ll need to know how to take advantage of the offer so you can save the thousands of dollars promised by the deal.

Competition in the full-size pickup segment is always fierce. This July, it is exceptionally cutthroat, as the 2019 Ram 1500 is moving ahead of the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado in sales. Truck manufacturers are adding generous incentives to protect their market share, with Ford and Chevy offering zero percent financing for six years. GMC is offering 20% off the sticker price of some models of the redesigned 2019 GMC Sierra. Other truck makers are offering massive cash back deals.

Trucks aren’t alone when it comes to great deals though. There’s an $8,000 cash back offer on the 2019 Cadillac Escalade, and you can get as much as $6,000 cash back on the 2019 Nissan Murano in some areas of the country. The 2019 Buick Encore is available with an 18% discount off its sticker price.

How Can U.S. News Help You Get a Deal?

You’re not getting a great deal on a new car unless you're choosing a great model that fits your needs and budget. The expert researchers and journalists of U.S. News & World Report offer many resources to help you through the car-buying and ownership journey.

Our researchers analyze thousands of car reviews from the top automotive journalists in the country. We combine their analysis with measurable data about every vehicle’s safety and predicted reliability to form the scores that we use to rank vehicles against their peers. You can find nearly every new car, pickup, minivan, and SUV in our new vehicle rankings. To ensure that our reviews remain fair and impartial, our staff does not accept trips or expensive gifts from automakers, and an independent company handles the advertising on our site.

Our site also features tools that you can use to compare vehicles side by side based on the factors that buyers tell us are critical in their purchase decisions, such as safety, predicted reliability, and vehicle performance.

Ready to buy? The U.S. News Best Price Program connects buyers and lease customers to local dealers offering guaranteed savings. Buyers save an average of more than $3,000 when they take advantage of the program.

We also offer resources to help you navigate the complex car-buying process. Our articles teach how to buy a vehicle, how to get an auto loan, and how to choose between buying and leasing. An essential part of car buying is having the knowledge and confidence to negotiate a great price on the car you want, avoid buying budget-busting add-ons, and finalize the deal. Expert advice, such as making sure that you have an approved financing deal in place from an outside lender before you start visiting dealers, will give you that confidence.

Our support does not end when you drive your new car home. We offer advice on how to get the right car insurance and how to avoid killing your car, which can save you thousands over the life of the vehicle.

What Is a Car Deal?

Carmakers offer specials for many reasons. Sometimes, a vehicle simply does not meet the sales goals the manufacturer expects, and they need a bit of a boost to pick up the pace. It's natural that when a vehicle nears the end of its product life cycle that its sales slow. At the same time, dealers need to move those older models off their lots to make room for updated versions.

Buyers can save thousands by taking advantage of automakers’ and dealers’ efforts to move certain vehicles off the lots. The best part? You don’t have to haggle to get the savings.

Three types of incentives are common. Lease incentives, which you’ll find on our lease deals page, offer low monthly payments, reduced amounts due at signing, or both. Cash back offers and financing deals reduce the price of the car or the cost of financing.

Cash back deals are a bit of a misnomer. You’re not going to leave the dealership with a stack of cash, though that would be cool. Cash back offers discount the price of the vehicle. They go by several names, including rebates, bonus cash, cash allowances, and cash back incentives. No matter which term the automaker uses, they all lower the amount that you have to pay. For example, take advantage of the $3,500 cash back deal on a base model of the 2019 Lexus IS, and you'll lower the price from $38,560 to $35,060.

One of the major car-buying costs is the amount you pay in interest when you finance your purchase. Though many buyers don’t consider the cost, it can add up to thousands of dollars. Taking advantage of a financing deal can slash that price tremendously. In the case of a zero percent financing offer, it can take the cost of financing to nothing. Finding an automaker with a low interest-rate offer is like seeing a bank with a huge "Sale" banner. By lowering or eliminating the cost of financing, you can shorten the length of your car loan, score a lower payment, or possibly afford a nicer vehicle.

To show you just how much money you can save by taking advantage of a zero percent deal, we’ll look at the six-year, zero percent financing offer available on the 2019 Ford F-150. We’ll assume you’re buying a midrange F-150 Lariat that’s priced at $41,700, and you won’t be making a down payment. When you take advantage of the zero percent deal, you don’t pay any interest. You simply divide the $41,700 price by the 72-month term of the loan to see that the monthly payments would be $579.

Without the zero percent deal, you would likely have to pay an interest rate somewhere near the market-average 4.8% for a six-year loan. Using an auto loan calculator to figure in the interest, you can see the monthly payments would be $668. The zero percent deal would save you $89 per month, or $6,408 over the life of the loan. If you had to pay interest, your $41,700 pickup would actually cost you $48,108.

The best financing deals are zero percent offers, of course, because they eliminate the cost of financing. Any offer that's well-below market rates will save you money, though. In most cases, buyers need excellent credit scores to qualify for the best interest rates. It's a good idea to check your credit score long before your car-buying odyssey begins so you can take steps to maximize your chance of getting one of the best deals available.

Also, even though you're getting a car deal from an automaker, you should still negotiate with the dealer to get the price even lower.

Interest rate and cash back specials come loaded with fine print and restrictions. Most offers are restricted to specific models or even trim levels of those models. Some are limited to a certain percentage of dealer stock or to consumers who live in specific locations. You can find the best deals available in your area by using our Best Price Program, contacting your local dealer, or chatting with an online sales rep. It's critical to pay attention to the expiration date on any offer, as missing by even a day can disqualify you from getting the discount.

Investing a little time and travel can reap big rewards. Different dealers can pay different prices to automakers to get the cars on their lots, so if one dealer paid substantially less than another dealer for the vehicle you're considering, they'll have more room to negotiate a final price. You can also save money by checking with dealers in areas where your car of choice isn't terribly popular. Full-size pickup trucks, for example, may be a bargain in cities but not in the suburbs or at rural retailers, while Hybrids may not be as in-demand in rural areas as they are in the city.

How Do You Know if It Is a Good Deal?

Consumers should never assume that an advertised deal is automatically a good deal. It takes a little bit of homework to analyze a deal, but fortunately, the math is pretty simple. Most people base their car-buying decision on the monthly payment, but that's an awful way to buy a car. Instead, you want to look at the total cost of the vehicle, including the cost of financing. You'll want to do the math yourself, as it's easy for a trained salesperson to shuffle the numbers around to give you a low monthly payment, even if the deal is horrendous. Not considering the total cost of a vehicle is a financial mistake with consequences that last years.

To figure the total cost, multiply the monthly payment by the number of months in the loan and add any down payment that you are making, plus the value of your trade-in. If, for example, you have monthly payments of $400 on a five-year loan and put $5,000 down, the total cost of the car would be $400 times 60 months plus $5,000, which works out to $29,000. You can find your monthly payment by using a car loan calculator that is capable of computing interest.

The first thing you want to remember is that there are three components to a car buying transaction: the cost of the car, the cost of the financing, and the value of your trade-in. You’ll want to keep them separate, while the dealership will want to lump them all into one confusing deal.

Car shoppers frequently need to decide between a cash back deal and low- or no-interest financing. Fortunately, making the decision is easy when you know how to calculate the cost of each option. To show you how, we'll use a couple of the deals available this month on the 2019 Lexus IS.

Lexus is offering a choice of $3,500 cash back or a five-year, zero percent financing deal. To keep things simple, we’ll assume you’ve chosen a base model, negotiated a $40,000 price, and don’t have a down payment or trade-in.

With the zero percent deal, the total cost of the car remains $40,000 since you don’t have to pay any interest. Divide the price by the number of months in the auto loan term, and you’ll see that each monthly payment is $667.

Opting for the $3,500 cash back drops the price of the luxury sedan to $36,500. However, you’ll likely have to pay close to the 4.74% average interest rate on your five-year loan. Plugging those figures into an auto loan calculator generates a monthly payment of $684. While the $17 monthly price difference might not sound like much, it adds up over the life of the loan. Multiply the $17 by 60, and you can see that choosing the zero percent financing offer saves you $1,020.

There are a lot of variables involved with different car deals, so never assume that one type of offer is always going to be better than another. Remember to include the value of your trade-in and any down payment you make into your calculations.

It is critical that you resist the urge, or a dealer’s suggestion, to stretch out your car loan past five years to lower your monthly payment or get into a more expensive car. Taking a longer loan puts you in a more precarious financial position and usually increases the interest rate and overall cost of the loan. You never want to be forced to choose between paying for a costly repair on a car that is out of warranty or making your car payment.

Completing the Deal

Once you've negotiated an agreement with the dealer, it's time to sit down and do the paperwork. It may have been a long day of haggling, and you just want to hop in your new car and drive away, but you need to slow down and pay attention to the details in the paperwork. You need to read each page, making sure that the numbers match what you agreed to. Sometimes costly add-ons magically appear in the final documents, and you’ll want them removed before you sign.

The most critical numbers to look for are the length of the loan, the price of the car, and your interest rate. Don't ever sign a document with blank spaces or errors, even if the finance officer promises to fix them later. If they pressure you to sign papers that are incorrect or that you don't understand, remember that your greatest power is to walk away from the deal.

If a dealer offers you the chance to take the car home while they process the final paperwork, you should politely decline. What often happens is that you’ll get a call saying you didn’t qualify for the deal that everyone agreed to, and you have to return to the dealer to fill out new paperwork. In many of those cases, the new financing deal is much more expensive than the original.

We research deals based on representative ZIP codes across the country. We strive to keep this list up to date, but offers can change without warning. Some car specials are limited to a certain number of vehicles or a percentage of dealer stock, and inclusion on our site does not guarantee that a particular deal will be available at your local outlet. The easiest way to find out if you can take advantage of an offer is to click the orange button next to the car that you're interested in, and we’ll search for a great price at a local new car dealer.

Our best car deals include purchase deals for Toyota, Nissan, Ford, Honda, Chevrolet, Hyundai, Kia, Dodge, Ram, Jeep, Mazda, Buick, GMC, Subaru, Volkswagen, Acura, Cadillac, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW, and Lexus vehicles. Our expert researchers and journalists also search the market for this month’s best lease deals and best used car deals. We’ve done the research to help you find a great ride at a great price.

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