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End of year shapes up to be prime car-buying time

DETROIT — If the spirit of giving — or of treating yourself — has inspired you to buy a car this holiday season, you’re in luck. Many local auto dealerships are overflowing with sedans, trucks, and SUVs, so there are deals to be had. Most dealers have abundant supplies of 2013 models, and 2014s are arriving as automakers keep factories humming. Since dealers pay interest on money borrowed to buy the cars, they’re probably anxious to sell them soon.

The December holiday season normally is a good time to buy as dealers clear out old models and sales people feel pressure to meet year-end targets. Some sales ran early this year as automakers tried to get a piece of the Black Friday retail holiday.

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Normally you can get 5 to 6 percent off the sticker price when dealing, but that could rise to 8 or 10 percent this month, said Alec Gutierrez, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book.

Cars to look at: The bargains, dealers say, depend a lot on what car, SUV, or truck you want to buy. The best deals now are in the small and midsize car segments.

Toyota, for instance, is offering $1,750 cash back on the midsize Camry in the Washington area, and competitors are following, Darvish said.

Ford dealers nationwide have about a 90-day supply of Fusion midsize cars, while other manufacturers’ dealers have 75-80 days of midsize car inventory, Gutierrez said.

There also are some good deals on pickup trucks as Ford, which has the oldest big truck in the market, offers discounts and forces other automakers to follow, Gutierrez said.

Ford is offering up to $8,500 off a 2013 Ford F-150 XLT Super Cab with a sticker price of around $30,000.

More discounts coming: As tempting as it might be to have a gift car sitting in the driveway Christmas morning, Gutierrez says the last weekend of the year is typically when prices are the lowest.

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Also, automakers still are offering sweet lease deals, with leases running at about 25 percent of sales, near a record high, Gutierrez said.

Electric car lease deals are especially good, he said. Some dealers are offering the electric Nissan Leaf for $199 per month for 36 months with $2,000 down.

If you wait until next year, you run some risks. Interest rates may rise and trade-in values are likely to drop a bit, Gutierrez said.