Buying a new car or truck can get expensive, but many manufacturers and dealers offer vehicle rebates to help defray some of the cost. Additionally, some government organizations offer rebates for certain energy-efficient vehicles.
How to Take Advantage of Rebates
If you're planning to buy a new car or truck, it's important to research rebates before heading to the dealership. Here's how you can save by doing your homework:
- Make a list of cars and trucks that have the features you need or want and meet your budget. Narrow this list down to four or five models you especially like.
- Visit the manufacturer's website for each model and look for current promotions or vehicle rebates. If you see nothing listed on the website, call the manufacturer to inquire about upcoming incentive programs.
- Compare vehicle prices and rebates side-by-side. You may be able to negotiate a lower price for one vehicle if a similar vehicle carries a higher incentive.
- Before going car shopping, decide how you'd like to use any rebate money. You can apply the money to your car loan to lower your payment, use the rebate money to purchase additional vehicle features, or simply pocket and save the vehicle rebate check for a rainy day.
- When you're ready to buy your car or truck, don't mention the rebate right away. Some dealers will tell potential buyers about the rebate to get them to buy, but others consider it the buyer's responsibility to do this research. Regardless, the rebate is not coming out of the dealer's pocket, so it should not affect the purchase price of the vehicle.
Government vehicle rebate programs are generally time-sensitive, and they usually apply only to specific vehicles. The popular Cash for Clunkers rebate, which occurred in 2009 and 2010, was designed to improve automobile emissions and encourage growth in the automotive industry. Other programs offer tax credits for hybrid or electric vehicles. To find out more about current government rebates, contact car manufacturers or auto dealers when you're ready to buy your car.
As you search for vehicle rebates, keep the following tips in mind:
- Many manufacturers offer vehicle rebates when they need to clear out excess inventory. Look for good deals in late summer and early fall.
- Don't make a rebate part of the deal when you're negotiating for the purchase of a car. Limit the conversation to the retail price of the vehicle.
- Consider applying your rebate money to your car loan. This can help bring down your balance and save you money in interest.
- As with everything related to buying a new car, the more you know, the more you can save. Do your homework before going to the car lot.