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Coronavirus forces car dealerships to offer more incentives

Consumer Reports

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – While seasonal deals and holiday discounts are common in the car business, the price of a new vehicle usually doesn’t vary a lot. But the coronavirus has changed that.

Car sales dipped in April, more than 50% percent over sales during the same time last year.

“Dealers are now stuck with a huge backlog of unsold vehicles that they are desperate to get off the lot, and they’re offering some aggressive financing incentives to entice buyers. This isn’t just on last year’s models, we’re seeing big savings across a wide range of makes and models,” says Jeff Bartlett with Consumer Reports.

The discounts can vary. Some popular car and truck models have discounts for thousands of dollars off the suggested retail price. And 0% financing has become an industry standard practically overnight.

If you’re willing to forgo a test drive, it’s likely you can have a contactless car buying experience. A number of websites and dealerships have digital platforms that allow consumers to select a model, color, trim level, and even negotiate the prices of a trade-in from home. Some will even deliver the car.

There are deals to be had on used cars as well, whether you buy pre-owned from a dealership or a private seller.

“The supply of used cars out on the market will certainly be outstripping demand, and this will likely continue over the next few months. So even if you’re not ready to buy now, you’ll likely be able to save big on any vehicle purchase for the foreseeable future,” says Bartlett.

And here is some advice if your car lease is set to expire:

“Not everyone is going to be comfortable starting a new lease right now, so we suggest reaching out to the dealer; many are waiving fees on lease extensions, so you can stay in the car you’re familiar with for the next few months,” says Bartlett.

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