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The New Economy

Toyota Financial: Great time to buy a Toyota?

Toyota dealers are eager to deal, but supplies are limited. So try Toyota's competitors, too.

By / February 16, 2010

New Toyota Prius sedans were lined up at a Houston dealership last week. With massive recalls under way, Toyota dealers are eager to lure in buyers with incentives. But supplies of cars that have been fixed are limited in some areas.

Pat Sullivan/AP

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If you're a Toyota fan, convinced that the safety concerns about various recalled models are overblown, this is a good time to visit a Toyota dealership.

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The negative publicity surrounding recalled models has dried up traffic for many dealers. In many areas of the United States, there are incentives ranging from 0 percent financing to cash back for various models. But don't expect rock-bottom pricing.

Surprisingly, the recall that has diminished demand has also diminished supply.

"It's not very easy to get a Toyota because of all the fixes they've had to do," says Jessica Caldwell, a senior analyst at Edmunds.com, an online information service for auto consumers based in Santa Monica, Calif. Although Toyota dealers are retrofitting some 50,000 recalled vehicles a day, "there's not a lot of supply out there to purchase."

Some regions of the country are offering better deals than others. "It really depends on the dealers in that area," says Justin Leach, spokesman for Toyota Financial Services, the company's financing arm. You can check the incentives in your area by plugging in your zip code here.

Even when supplies move back to normal, it looks as though Toyota might try to offer an aggressive warranty program, like Kia's 10-year coverage, rather than aggressively discount prices, Ms. Caldwell adds. "It seems like they're going to be pretty conservative about this."

Several of Toyota's competitors, however, are offering deals, some of them aimed at current Toyota owners. Edmunds.com has compiled a list of incentives from Dodge & Chrysler (try minivans risk-free for 60 days), Ford (varies by model), General Motors (0 percent APR up to 48 months on some models and bonus cash for trading in a recalled car), and others.

Traditionally, some times of year are better than others to buy a car: end of the model year, end of the calendar year, and the end of any month, Consumer Reports suggests. But these days, it varies so much that it's up to the consumer to keep track of the deals.

Tough times for Toyota could mean good deals for consumers. Thinking of buying a new Toyota? Tell us about it on Twitter or check in with us for the latest recall information: @CSMecon

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