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Shopping Tip: Buy Now, As Car Prices May Go Up This Winter


In its original restructuring plan GM announced it will reduce its 6,200 dealers to around 4,600 by 2010

In its original restructuring plan GM announced it will reduce its 6,200 dealers to around 4,600 by 2010

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If you're in the market for a new car, you should be prepared to buy this summer.  Prices have been on the way down for months, but they're expected to level out in a few months, and even rise by winter.

That's the conclusion the car pricing experts at TrueCar.com reach when they look at the data.  Jesse Toprak, TrueCar's Vice President of Industry Trends and Insights, tells us "we expect prices to start stabilizing this fall, and actually start to increase in the fourth quarter."

At the moment, there are good deals to be found.  "Consumers can look to automakers to increase incentives throughout the summer, particularly for 2010 model year vehicles," Toprak says.

Shoppers have to make their selection carefully.  Overall, industry incentive spending declined last month.  But, he notes, "certain brands have actually increased incentives."  He names GM, Ford, Honda and Toyota as automakers who are still in the process of discounting cars.  But they're not offering across-the-board price cuts.  "Manufacturers have become much better at optimizing their incentive programs, Toprak explains, offering interest-free loans or cash-back rebates only on models that need the boost to sell, and only in regions where the cars aren't selling well.

So, if you anticipate replacing the family car soon, what should you do?  Act fast, Toprak says.  "The months of July and August are actually some of the best times to buy, especially 2010 model year vehicles, as we get a very good combination of big discounts and a good selection of vehicles."  Further into the fall, the supply of 2010 models will dwindle.

Those who are more picky about price than options can wait a little while, Toprak says.  "If you're looking for the absolute lowest purchase price, you may want to wait until September or even beyond."  But playing chicken with that fourth-quarter price spike might not be a good idea for your wallet.

"If you're picky about the color or the option combination for the vehicle you'd like to buy," Toprak concludes, "we'd advise not waiting too long."

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