A new car If you're looking for a good deal on a new ride, it just sped by you and is now a couple miles down the road in the opposite direction.
The road through March was paved with incentives from Ford ( F), Nissan ( NSANY), GM ( GM) and even Hyundai that helped increase U.S. auto sales 17% from last year. Blame the pent-up winter demand, the new-model releases or even the American desire to duck rising gasoline prices if you'd like, but those $1,500-to-$2,000 incentives are a big push for customers who may otherwise put off their purchases until spring. "March always has 31 days, so that definitely helps," says Jessica Caldwell, senior analyst at Edmunds.com. "It's always one of the top sales months, along with May, August and December." Don't take May for granted this year, however, as the continued earthquake-, tsunami- and nuclear-related turmoil in Japan is still playing havoc with the supply chain and shortages of even the most seemingly benign part can bring production of nearly all the world's car models to a screeching halt. Caldwell notes that better incentives can usually be found during August and early September, when automakers clear out stock to make way for next year's models.