It hasn't been the easiest year for car manufacturers with the economic downturn, and demand for new cars has been low since the federal government's Cash for Clunkers program ended. This means that manufacturers have an extra incentive to offer great deals.
In particular, if you're willing to purchase an older model year, you might be able to secure a considerable discount on a new car. Moreover, with the winter season approaching, manufacturers are offering bigger discounts on vehicles that are happier in winter weather conditions -- namely trucks and SUVs. This is an attempt to draw back some of the customers who have opted to trade down to affordable small cars with all-wheel drive and other features that aid driving in poor conditions.
We've used new car pricing data from TrueCar to help you find the cars with the deepest discounts for the fall season. TrueCar processes thousands of new car transactions every day, tracking the actual prices buyers pay. When you know the kind of discounts others are getting, you can target your shopping to the most discounted models and secure a better deal for yourself.
Shop by Brand and Model Year
This month most of the deepest discounted cars are offered by American manufacturers, as illustrated by the TrueCar data. American carmakers like Chrysler and Dodge are offering large discounts on older models, while Ford and Lincoln are ahead of the curve on discounts for 2010 models.
One of the keys to getting a better discount is a buyer's willingness to buy an older model. Manufacturers are rolling out their 2010 models this fall, but incentives on these aren't huge. Dealers for Lincoln, Ford, Volvo and Chrysler, for example, are offering their 2010s at an average price of 9 percent below MSRP -- and that's good, but it isn't great. On the other hand, dealers are under pressure to make room on their lots for the new 2010s, which means they'll offer much bigger discounts on older model years. Leftover 2009 models are being offered at an average of 18 percent below MSRP by Dodge and 15 percent by Chrysler and Kia.
Think about that. If you were able to get the average discount for a Dodge on a 2009 Dodge Durango, you'd save $5,063 off the MSRP of $28,130, bringing your final price down to $23,067. That means you would get a large SUV for about the price of a midsize sedan. Not too shabby. Similarly if you were able to apply the Kia average discount to a new 2009 Kia Sportage, you'd save $2,504 off the $16,695 MSRP. That would mean you'd be getting a compact SUV for only $14,191, which is cheaper than many affordable small cars.
Shop by Model
In an attempt to steal back customers who have opted for smaller cars, dealers are offering some of the biggest discounts on trucks and SUVs. Particularly if you live in a state where snow or ice can be an issue, it makes sense that you'd want something a little sturdier. The 2010 Ford F-150 is consistently being offered at 14 percent below MSRP and gets top safety ratings from the federal government.
The Dodge Charger isn't a truck or an SUV, but it's a muscle car that offers both rear- and all-wheel drive. When it has all-wheel drive, it can definitely hold its own in the rougher road conditions that are more common in winter months. Over the past month, buyers have consistently paid around 22 percent below MSRP for 2009 Chargers. This trend towards offering deals on particular types of models could help to get you a great discount on a winter-weather vehicle.
Track Prices and Incentives
One of the best things to do if you're interested in a particular car is to track the prices other buyers have paid over time. This will give you a better idea of when the best time to buy is. TrueCar has highlighted some of the biggest month-by-month price drops on particular models. Between the months of August and September, the price of a 2009 Ford F-150 2WD SuperCab dropped $1,864. Even luxury cars can have big price drops -- the 2009 Mercedes Benz C-Class sedan saw its price drop $1,653 over the past month.
Be aware too that dealers are more likely to offer incentives on holidays and towards the end of the month. TrueCar predicts that October 31st (Halloween) will have the best average discount for this month -- around 6.6 percent overall.