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Those Memorial Day Weekend Car Sales Might Not Be As Good As You Think

Image:AP
Image:AP

Due to relentless marketing, a lot of people seem to think that Memorial Day is this massive clearance event for new cars where you can score the deal of a lifetime. But depending on the brand you choose, you may actually be getting a worse deal than you would have at another time.

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You would think that, since new car sales in 2018 are off pace from 2017's record year, the brands would be pulling out all the stops to get buyers into the showroom. However, according to a report from CarsDirect.com, some automakers are actually scaling back cheap financing and increasing lease payments.

CarsDirect Senior Pricing Analyst Alex Bernstein tells us Nissan is now offering zero percent financing on the ultra-popular Rogue, but only for up to 60 months. And that’s not bad! But it’s nowhere near as good as last year.

Last year, it wasn’t uncommon for the brand to offer 0% APR for 72 months plus a $500 finance bonus. That translates to a monthly payment of $354 with a total cost of $25,500 before taxes & fees.

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On the flip side, you’re probably better off if you finance a car for five years instead of six. Here’s how other brands stack up:

Toyota has hit the brakes as well. The 72-month rate on the Corolla has risen somewhat unbelievably to 3.49% APR (up from 1.9 in April). The 60-month rate is 1.9% (up from 0.9).

Rates on the all-new Camry have gotten progressively worse every month in 2018. The 72-month rate has risen from 0.9% back in February to 1.9% in March, then 2.9% in April and finally 3.49% in May.

Kia hiked lease prices on at least 8 models in May by up to $10/month or by adding as much as $500 to its amounts required at signing.

That’s not to say buyers can’t find good deals on Memorial Day Weekend. As Alex points out the Mazda is offering some seriously aggressive leases via dealer cash and Ford and Lincoln are throwing all kinds of money and cheap financing at sedans. You can also get a killer deal on a Subaru, but this is not unique to May.

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Here is the truth about these so-called Memorial Day Sales: more often than not you can find the same deal throughout the whole month of May and most of the specials will spill over into early June. That is because automakers don’t offer special incentives and rebates for one weekend only, usually these programs are all month long.

Furthermore, a good dealer that is willing to offer a competitive price will do so at the beginning, middle or end of the month. There is an old-school bit of car buying advice that says only buy at the end of the month because dealers will be “more desperate” to hit their targets and therefore be more willing to give you an additional discount.

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The problem with that is that it assumes the dealer hasn’t already hit that target, or is close enough to their target that where an extra push will make a difference. Most high volume stores want to continuously make sales throughout the month and not scramble on the last weekend. If you shop right these places will be aggressive all the time to move the units.

On the other hand, some smaller stores may never get to those sales targets to qualify for the unit bonuses and have to rely on making money on the cars themselves.

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If you are going to be car shopping, it’s imperative that you don’t just roll into the showroom this weekend and expect to score the best price. You should take your time and compare quotes via email before you walk into the dealership. Many of these “deals” will be rolled over into June, so you probably won’t miss out if you don’t make a purchase this weekend.

Tom is a contributing writer for Jalopnik and runs AutomatchConsulting.com. He saves people money and takes the hassle out of buying or leasing a car. (Facebook.com/AutomatchConsulting)

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DISCUSSION

epicfailure
Epic Failure

I know that good financing can depend on the promotion that happens to be going on at the moment (often tied with a major national holiday), but in terms of negotiating purchase price, I’ve found it didn’t matter.

You pretty much go shopping around at any time of year until you find a dealer who will give you the price you want.