Virtually every car manufacturer offers some type of auto incentive rebates on certain models throughout the year. Consumers reap the benefits of cash refunds, inexpensive financing, free optional features or prizes if they purchase a car during the incentive period. In addition to the auto makers, car dealerships often add their own incentive programs - adding to the confusion involved when buying a car. Not all models and makes fall into this category and incentive rebates vary depending on the time of year, the quantity of autos for sale, discontinued models and other factors. With the continually fluctuating incentive programs and variety of possible offers, it makes sense for a consumer to stay abreast of both market conditions and incentive options before making a final car selection. In most cases, incentive rebates are offered for new car purchases but some previously owned dealers offer rebate deals on used cars.

Manufacturers Incentive Rebates

Manufacturer's incentive rebates refer to a specific car model and year of manufacture. In order to move cars from dealer's lots to make room for newer models, manufacturers will offer incentives, particularly for large volume production cars. For example, a current incentive program of $5,000 may be offered on the 2009 Mazda RX-8 Coupe or $3,000 cash back on the 2009 Mazda Tribute Hybrid. At the same time, Mazda offers no incentives on similar 2010 models or on high end luxury cars or trucks. As soon as the 2009 vehicles sell, incentive rebates switch to newer models or may reduce in cash value. Each car manufacturer offers similar programs, anywhere from $500 to $6,000, a figure that updates monthly throughout the year depending on actual sales and future projections. In a slow economy, manufacturer's incentive rebates tend to increase and affect a greater number of cars and models for sale.

How Cash Back Offers Work

Cash back incentives essentially create a discount for the consumer. A car buyer should expect to pay for the car with cash or credit and then request a rebate check, normally processed between six to eight weeks after the sale of the vehicle. In many regions of the U.S., car dealerships control the incentive rebates and may offer a buyer a deal where the cash amount is automatically deducted from the sale price. A buyer receives an added benefit with this deal of paying a lower sales tax. The dealer then performs the necessary paperwork with the auto maker after the car is sold. Dealers may also offer other financial incentives such as low or zero interest financing. Non-cash giveaways such as adding optional equipment, extended warranties or receiving gift prizes qualify as incentives but normally have a lesser impact on the price of the car. Any consumer warrants eligibility to receive a cash rebate but it is often up to the buyer to ask about the program, particularly if the incentive rebates initiate at the car manufacturer and go directly to the dealership. Additional discounts may be available for veterans, new college graduates or special needs buyers and should be investigated. A consumer who enters a car dealer's lot and falls in love with the latest model on the showroom floor may not receive any incentive rebates. However, hundreds of dollars may be saved if the buyer arrives prepared with knowledge about current advertised rebate programs and asks for a deal on a specific car. Small giveaway programs such as movie tickets, free gas cards and restaurant certificates do little to reduce the price of a car but true incentive rebates often make buying a new car affordable and a solid value.