As auto sales have taken a nosedive, dealers are offering incentives and rebates to lure in customers. Those deals -- combined with lower interest rates -- create a great environment if you're in the market for a new car.
Still, there are always pitfalls to be wary of and strategies to save more. Here are some tips to buy the right car at the right price:
1. Decide what type of vehicle fits your needs, lifestyle and budget
If you're single and don't cart around a lot of stuff, an SUV such as a Cadillac (GM) Escalade might be impractical. If you've got a family of five, a Jaguar (F) SK sports coupe doesn't make much sense. If you're on a tight budget, a luxury car like a Maybach (DAI) is probably over the top.
2. Don't rationalize an expense that is far beyond your budget
Before looking at the latest models, figure out how much you can afford each month and stick to the plan. Make sure to factor in monthly payments, insurance, maintenance and gasoline
3. Shop around on the Web
Dealers and insurers offer rebates, incentives and specials online that you might not find elsewhere. You can use that information to negotiate better terms in person or over the phone.
Keep in mind there is always fine print -- advertised prices are often lower than what you'll actually pay. For instance, Toyota (TM) advertises its 2009 Camry starting at $18,720. But if you can't drive a stick shift, the price actually starts at $19,770. That figure doesn't include fees, taxes or accessories that can add up to hundreds or thousands of dollars.