You have to give the auto industry at least some credit for seasonal hijinks: Amid a weekend of college football and brats, new-car deals are kind of the wurst. In late August, J.D. Power pegged average new-car incentives at a record low 4.3% of MSRP, or less than half of what they were a year ago. It comes as vehicle supply remains hampered by a monthslong microchip shortage, with new-car inventory at Cars.com dealers down 58% since the start of the year.
Used cars don’t offer much relief. Inventory has remained more stable, but pricing has skyrocketed; the median list price for a used vehicle on Cars.com has increased 33% so far this year. Indeed, lightly used cars these days cost nearly as much as their new counterparts.
Our advice? Use that to your advantage by getting the best possible offer on your trade-in. Combine a high trade with one of the few new cars still offering sizable discounts this Labor Day weekend, and you might score a decent deal — a rarity, it seems, in 2021.