Auto Sales for December 2014 were strong, and they closed out a record-setting year for new car sales in the United States. According to data from TrueCar, new car and light truck sales were up 9.5 percent over December 2013, and the biggest sales numbers for December in 10 years. TrueCar estimates that 17 million new cars were sold in 2014 and they report that transaction prices (the final price paid for new cars and light trucks) increased almost 2 percent over 2013.  That tracks with data from Kelley Blue Book, which is reporting transaction prices up 2.5 percent from 2013.

The Mazda CX-5 helped propel new car sales in December (Mazda North American Operations).

“Pricing is strong across most of the industry with the exception of the hybrid/alternative energy segment, which dropped 1.2 percent as gas prices hit a five-year low,” said Alec Gutierrez, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book.  “Lower gas prices will further help the market for trucks and utilities, which are traditionally popular in December.”

Auto sales were strong in 2014 due to improved consumer confidence and pent-up demand from the recession. While those sales are great for car makers, new car shoppers can find the increased prices frustrating. If you’re shopping for a deal on a new car, there are a few things you can do to make sure you save some cash.

  • Research new car deals and incentives. We collect the best new car deals every month.  We also gather the best lease deals.  Knowing which models have the best deals is an easy way to save.
  • Let someone else do the negotiating for you. Our Best Price Program gives you guaranteed new car pricing. On average, shoppers who use this program save $3,221 off MSRP. Given that TrueCar reports that the average transaction price of a new car was $33,168, the average savings seen in our Best Price Program go a long way towards offsetting the transaction price increases that shoppers saw in 2014.
  • Don’t buy a popular model. Cars and trucks that are in high demand have high prices as well. For a stronger negotiating position look at models that aren’t as popular right now, like hybrids and small cars. Going for a hybrid or small car now could not only net you a better deal than choosing a truck or SUV, but it could also save you money down the line if and when gas prices increase again.
  • If a new car is too pricey for you now, consider a used one. When new car sales are high, it often translates to a glut of used cars, since new car buyers are trading in their old rides. More used cars means lower prices. Check out the best used cars in our Used Car Rankings.

In the market for a new car? Take a look at our Best Cars Rankings, and get a great deal with our Best Price Program. Check in soon for the Best New Car Deals and the Best Lease deals for January. Also be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest car deals and car-buying news.