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Buy a Car at Fire-Sale Prices

Need a car for home or work? You're in luck.

Dealers are struggling to sell cars in this mess of an economy, and that means there are plenty of great deals. Provided, that is, you can afford to buy a car in the first place.

Despite the hot deals available, coming up with the cash to pay for a new car or SUV is more difficult than it was a few months ago. Reason: The credit crunch has meant belt-tightening at lending departments around the country.

But even though dealers aren't offering as many no-money-down deals as they used to, there are still options when shopping for a new car. If you own your own business, you have a chance to save thousands of dollars. Here are a few tips to make sure you stretch your hard-earned dollars to buy the car of your dreams.

Shop around: Dealers exist in the same economic reality as any other retailer, which these days means slumping sales, rising inventory and trouble accessing credit. Dealers pay interest charges on cars sitting on their showroom floors. The longer it takes to sell a car, the more they pay. Dealers paying the most interest will be the most eager to unload cars at fire-sale prices. That means deals will vary from dealer to dealer, so it is worth shopping around.

The easiest way to compare prices is to search online using Web sites like Cars.com or AutoTrader.com. You can search for a specific make and model based on your ZIP code. Make sure you understand what options are included in a quote. A quote $1,000 higher may still be a better deal if it includes the six-CD changer, sunroof and fog lights you have always wanted.

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