Are convertibles really more expensive in the summer?

Yup, especially with used cars. Dealers bid for them at auction, and it’s all about supply and demand. So buying automobiles, like fashion, is seasonal: A fourwheel drive costs more when there’s snow on the ground. And, Calland says, you’ll pay more for a pickup in the spring when contractors are snapping them up. “Cars are a commodity,” he says. Buying out of phase with the seasons can save you real money. Calland says a $15,000 convertible could go for as much as $2,500 less in a snowy February than it would in June. Tell Calland what you want and what you’ll pay, and he’ll look for that car at auction. Then be patient, and you can get a dollar’s worth of car for 84 cents.

Similar dynamics are at work when it comes to new cars. “If gas prices spike to $6 a gallon, guess what: There’s going to be a line out the door at Toyota and they’re going to sell every Prius on the lot at full price,” Quincy says. That’s when it’s time to go SUV shopping. Supply and demand also holds true on the individual level. “When you’re at the dealer,” Quincy says, “don’t show the sales people your love for a car. Don’t slobber, ‘I’ve wanted this Mustang since I was 15 years old,’ because then they’ve got you.”

“How much do you want to pay per month?”

Never answer this question. The salesman is trying to take your eye off the ball so you focus on the monthly payment, which can be massaged by extending the duration of the loan, for example. Even if the monthly payment is $250, you may still be overpaying for the car. Your answer: “I’d rather focus on the sticker price.”

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