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Bargains for new and used cars still hard to find

Mar 20, 2023Mar 20, 2023

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SAN ANTONIO — More cars are now available, but big bargains are still hard to find. Compare used car prices to new car prices before you buy.

"The price difference can be very minimal," said Brian Moody, executive editor for Kelley Blue Book. "So it does make sense if you’re buying a lightly used car, say five-year-old or newer, it does make sense to look at a new car and see if maybe the price is comparable."

The difference may be just a few thousand dollars.

Save by looking for a less popular vehicle.

"When people say they want a deal, that's understandable," Moody said. "But don't go looking for the specific type of vehicle that literally everyone else is looking for and then say ‘Oh, I want to get a deal.’ Go look for a sedan or hatchback. ‘Oh, no, I want a Cadillac Escalade.’ You’re going to pay what you’re to pay. But if you’re flexible and you can do something like it, a sedan, and many sedans today have SUV-like features like a cargo net or all-wheel drive or heated seats in the front and back. If you can get by with a sedan that's going to get better fuel economy and probably has more flexibility in the price, look at that first."

Do your research before you buy.

"That should just be handled ahead of time," Moody said. "You should know your credit score. You should know what you can afford. You should know what kind of car you’re looking for. It is worth shopping around. I would cross-shop. I would shop other dealers in the same area. Different makes, different models, different brands. But definitely do your homework and find out what is a fair price for this car. There's no reason you can't ask ‘Is there any flexibility?’"

Use the TrueCar app can help you negotiate the best price.

"That will help you figure out what the average selling price is for a certain make and model in your area. It’ll show you what other shoppers paid and that’ll give you a good target number to go for when you are negotiating," said Andrea Woroch, a smart saving expert. "Or when you see a price at a certain auto dealership, you’ll know how close that is to what you should really be paying."

Also, shop around for a car loan to get the best interest rate.

"Go get pre-approved from your bank or credit union," Moody said. "However, the dealership may be able to beat that rate. If they can, let them. But if they can't, you have the backup already."

Higher interest rates on car loans could mean less demand for cars.

"That means there will be more vehicles on the lot and we may even see price start to come down a little bit," said Robert Handfield, a professor of supply chain management at North Carolina State University.

Plus, wait a few more months to get a deeper discount.

"Usually around the end of the year when the 2024s starts coming out on the lot, they want to clear out the 2023s as quickly as possible and that's a good time to get a deal," Handfield said.

Car costs are trending down, but from record high prices, so expect to still have some sticker shock.