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Buying a new car? Join the club

By Tara Baukus Mello · Bankrate.com
Saturday, January 7, 2012
Posted: 9 am ET

If you’re planning on buying a new car in 2012, you’ll be part of a fairly large and growing "club" -- nearly 14 million Americans, to be exact. About one million more Americans are expected to buy a new car or lease a vehicle this year than last, according to numerous auto industry analysts. Car shoppers this year are likely to see some substantial rebates and lower interest rates on car loans, drawing even more shoppers onto dealers' lots.

In fact, the continued loosening of credit combined with low interest rate loans is a top reason consumers will be car shopping. In 2012, affordable car loans are likely to become even more affordable with automakers offering more low interest and zero percent loans for up to five years, according to Paul Taylor, chief economist for the National Automobile Dealers Association.

Aggressive cash rebates are also expected by both American and international automakers as they jockey for a bigger share of the market. Numerous auto analysts expect substantial rebates to be offered by Chrysler, Ford and General Motors, as well as Honda, Toyota and Volkswagen.

Another big factor playing into increased new car sales in 2012 is the age of many cars -- 11 years old on average. These older cars are generally high mileage -- 100,000 miles on the odometer or more. With high mileage often comes high repair bills and less reliable forms of transportation -- two key influences for car owners to start shopping for a new set of wheels.

What about you? Are you getting ready to join the New Car Owners Club of 2012? What factors are driving you to buy a new car this year?

Tara Baukus Mello writes the cars blog as well as the weekly Driving for Dollars column, providing both practical financial advice for consumers as well as insight into the latest developments in the automotive world. Follow her on Facebook here or on Twitter @SheDrives.

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