How to find a great car at a decent price

ByMichael Finney and Renee Koury KGO logo
Wednesday, February 23, 2022
How to find a great car at a decent price
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Flexibility with what car you buy and having your financing at the ready are two ways you can cut a deal at the dealership.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It's hard to believe just one year ago, almost no one paid the full sticker price for a new car. This year, you're lucky to find such a deal.

A report by Edmunds, which tracks car prices, confirms what many of you have witnessed.

The average selling price of a car is about $6,000 higher this year -- up to $45,000.

So can you still find a great car at a decent price?

The supply chain crisis reduced car manufacturing -- so there are fewer of the cars we want. But it doesn't mean you have to pay more.

Mike Quincy of Consumer Reports sympathizes with car buyers who've seen huge markups lately, even from their favorite dealers. "There's a big demand and little supply and so prices have nowhere to go but up," he said.

"What do you do if you're a dealer? You're not making a lot of sales because you don't have a lot to sell, so you try to make as much as you can with what you have to sell," he explained.

However, he says buyers can still find a good deal on a great car. First, he says, keep your options open.

"You need to be flexible. If you need a family car and you're thinking about a three-row SUV and you can't find any in stock, but they do have minivans, consider a minivan..." Quincy said.

If you have your heart set on buying a certain model, he says, forget it.

"Find a less popular model. Try to go against the grain. The lesser-popular ones are more available and are more reasonably priced. If you grew up in a family, say, we're always a Chevrolet family, we're always a Toyota family -- take those blinders off," Quincy said.

And he says be ready to buy.

"Make sure you've got your financing set up before you head out, either with a bank or credit union... Find out what is on the lot, what kind of inventory -- real time inventory -- a car dealer has, not what's coming in, what they actually have and be ready to act fast, put a deposit down and act quickly," he said.

And finally, he says, if a dealer demands an exorbitant price, take a step back.

"If it's out of reach, you stand up and say 'thank you very much' and just walk out. Right now it's a seller's market, but is it going to last forever? I don't think so," Quincy said.

Also if you have a used car, you may be able to get more in a trade-in than you paid for it -- but that also puts you in the market with everyone else trying to find a reasonable deal for another car.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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