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January Will Be Hot Month for Used-Car Bargains

January 2, 2002

January is shaping up as the best month in years to shop for used cars, as dealers flooded with trade-ins from record sales in October and November mark down prices to clear their lots, according to the Charlotte Observer.

Dealers are even using the glut of used cars in their advertising to draw buyers. Lake Norman Ford in Huntersville, N.C., is running radio ads offering to finance customers' used-car purchases interest-free in 2002. "I have been flooded since after the Sept. 11 attacks and, of course, the new-car sales were crazy in October and November, and we are pretty much loaded up with used cars," said Paul Adkins, the finance manager at the dealership.

Most dealers predict these conditions will last only until February, when used-car sales rise with the arrival of income-tax refund checks.

Used-car sales always are slow in the fourth quarter as new-car dealers offer incentives on year-end models to make room for the next year's models. Those deals, which include rebates, low-interest-rate loans or generous trade-in allowances, often lure buyers away from the used-car market. But the seasonal slowdown was compounded this fall by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

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