Fire Sale: 2010 Models Dealers Are Desperate To Get Rid Of

October 16, 2010

If you learn only one thing about the car buying process, car shoppers, let it be this: dealers don't own the cars they sell.  They're making payments on them, just like you will be if you buy.

A dealer's loan, of course, is much more complex than the one you will probably take on if you buy the car.  It's called a "floorplan loan," and it involves multiple vehicles and a complicated structure of escalating payments.  Often, a dealer doesn't pay anything at all for the first 30 or 60 days the car sits in the showroom.  But as time drags on, payments come do.  Often (some financing companies do it differently than others), the payments grow over time.  The longer a car sits unsold, the more it's costing the dealer just to keep it.

There comes a point in the process when the dealership may even take a loss just to get rid of a car.  We can't tell you exactly when that point will come, as each dealership's financing arrangements are unique.

But we can tell you how long some models are sitting there.  Our pricing partners at track how long, on average, each model of car is taking to sell.  The longer a model sits unsold, the more likely you are to talk a dealership into a lowball offer -- and the five slowest movers this month include some cars we'd be happy to own. 

Every car on the list is a 2010 model, and in many cases, you'll find new 2011s in the showroom, with the 2010s tucked away in the back lot.  But they're there, and though sometimes the 2011 is a redesigned car, often it isn't, and the 2010 is substantially the same as the 2011 model with the higer price.  The difference between a 2010 Honda Accord and a 2011 Honda Accord, for instance?  LIghter-colored A/C dials, and carpet lining the roof of the trunk.  Not exactly worth a hefty price increase.  So ask about 2010s, and make your local dealer a respectable low offer on one of these six. On average, they're sitting unsold longer than anything else on the market. 

2010 Toyota Camry

2010 Toyota Camry

Enlarge Photo

2010 Toyota Camry -- 238 days in inventory

America's best-selling car eight years running, the Camry took a public relations beating this year as allegations of unintended acceleration struck Toyota.  But more than 99.9% of the current generation Camrys on the road have never been accused of the alleged fault, and every one on dealership lots, Toyota says, has been through the recall repair process that is supposed to fix the defect.  So the Camry's battered reputation has become a great buying opportunity, as a well-rounded car with a long reliability history is now available at a significant discount.

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