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Old 11-11-2003, 10:02 AM   #1
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2003 Vs 2004 vehicles

Some info I found at Consumer Reports.com that may be useful to some people.

2003 vs. 2004 vehicles: The facts and myths about buying last year's models

Despite the arrival of a slew of new models, some of last year's cars and trucks can linger on dealers' lots for months. Is it wise to buy last year's model when the "new and improved" version is parked right next to it? Find out which of the following statements are facts and which are myths.

Last year's models are routinely discounted.
FACT: When a new-model introduction is in the air, you are likely to see tempting ads that dangle high rebates or low finance charges in front of potential buyers of soon-to-be-replaced models. Financial incentives, including some you may not know about, are increasingly common as auto-industry competition heats up. Manufacturers sometimes provide additional incentives to dealers to move older cars off the lot.

You should never pay more than invoice price for last year's model.
MYTH: Depending on the popularity and availability of the vehicle, you could pay more than invoice. Some models in high demand and short supply -- even last year's versions -- can still command closer to the manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP, or "sticker price"). Still, chances are that last year's models will be discounted. Auto dealers call them "leftovers" and are often eager to move them off the lot to make room for the current year's cars. In these instances, informed bargaining can reap substantial rewards.

New cars don't depreciate much in the first few years.
MYTH: By the time you've proudly parked that spanking-new car in your driveway, it's a used vehicle worth considerably less than what you forked over an hour ago. Since few people sell a brand-new car, it's difficult to accurately gauge immediate depreciation, but one rough estimate is 10 to 15 percent. That's a $2,000 to $4,000 drop in value for many popular cars. Depreciation rates are a major consideration if you buy last year's model, since your vehicle is already considered to be one year old when you purchase it.

A new model is always going to be better than an old one.
MYTH: Of the approximately 200 models brought out each year, about 40 are new or substantially redesigned. Although new cars have generally become safer and more reliable in the past 10 years, buying a totally new or redesigned vehicle always entails some risk. Will it be reliable and retain its value? In some cases, that won't be fully known for about three years, according to the Consumer Reports auto experts, because it takes owners' cumulative experiences to establish a vehicle as a creampuff or a lemon.

You no longer have to wait until September to see new models.
FACT: Carmakers used to introduce new models in the fall. Today they roll them out year-round, trying to get a jump on the competition.

Buying last year's model makes more sense if you plan to sell it soon.
MYTH: Drive your 2003 model for the next 12 months and it will technically be 24 months old. You may have negotiated a bargain price, but if you bought a new 2003 vehicle in model year 2004, its perceived value will always be less than its actual driving history. That's not a big problem until you decide to sell it. The good news is that depreciation differences decline with the age of the car, so its model year becomes less meaningful the longer you own it.


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