Is the 4th of July a good time to buy a car?

The 4th of July means fireworks, barbecues, and car commercials. Pyrotechnics and meat should be as good as ever this year. But hype commercials may be missing something: great deals to offer.

New car prices are near an all-time high right now. The average new car in May sold for $47,148, the second-highest total on record. Nearly all buyers paid more than the sticker price, with non-luxury buyers paying $1,030 more than the average asking price and luxury buyers paying $1,071 more.

That means automakers and their dealers see little need to discount cars this summer.

May was the 11th month in a row that average new vehicle prices exceeded the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. We’re expecting June to mark the twelfth month in a row, and none of that offers reason to believe that there will be many great deals around during the 4th of July holiday.

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Brian Moody, executive editor of Kelley Blue Book and our sister site Autotrader, offers these three suggestions.

  • Be flexible. The best way to get a good deal is to buy a car from the dealer’s existing inventory. The cars on the actual lot are cars owned by the dealer, and those are the cars you can get the fastest, and maybe for the best price. Also, be flexible on things like color and options.

  • Look for less popular vehicle types. If you’re looking for a popular midsize SUV, you’re not going to get any deals. Those types of vehicles are trading well above retail price in almost every case. Consider a midsize sedan instead if you can make that work.

  • Consider purchasing a Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) vehicle. These are typically gently used cars that come with an extra warranty compared to a used car. While used vehicle prices are also high by historical norms, a good CPO is likely to cost less than a good new vehicle.

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Shoppers might also consider looking outside of the brands that typically draw their attention. Fiat, Buick, Ram and Lincoln were selling most cars below manufacturer’s suggested retail price in May, even as most brands were selling above MSRP.

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