Chevrolet, Ford Kick Off Labor Day Sales Early

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It's still a couple weeks before you can fire up the barbecue and watch your alma mater get steamrolled by the Southeastern Conference, but some car dealers are kicking off Labor Day early — on the sales front, that is. Automotive News reports (subscription required) that Ford launched its Labor Day sale on July 29. The sale, which runs through Sept. 2, includes most of its lineup save the 2015 Mustang, F-Series and commercial vans, according to Automotive News.

Related: July's Fastest- and Slowest-Selling Cars

We checked the offers, and most involve zero-percent financing for as long as 72 months, or offers of up to around $3,000 off an Escape, $3,500 off an Edge and $3,500 off a Fusion (all 2014s). That's more than what Ford offered on the Fusion a year ago, but incentives don't appear to have increased a great deal in the past month, so this summer sale could mostly be a new name for existing spiffs.

GM, meanwhile, started its Chevy Labor Day Sale early because, as GM spokesman Jim Cain told Automotive News, "Ford started its Labor Day sale a little bit early." The brand's sale includes three months' deferred payments on the 2014 Silverado, Traverse, Cruze, Malibu, Camaro and Impala. Cash incentives on those models amount to $2,500 on the Cruze, $2,000 on the Malibu, $1,000 on the Impala, $2,000 on the Camaro and $2,000 on the Traverse (all 2014s). Chevrolet is GM's only brand that's offering the 90-day deferrals, Cain told us. GM isn't offering the deal for its Buick, Cadillac and GMC brands.

It isn't the only automaker offering payment deferrals, either. Dodge's Summer Clearance Event includes no payments for 90 days. (That doesn't mean deferring your payment is necessarily a good idea; Dodge specifies in the fine print that deferred payments still accumulate interest during the deferral period. So unless you got a really low rate, your vacation from car payments isn't free.)

Other major automakers — including Honda, Toyota, Nissan and Hyundai — have promotions, too, but most of them are summer-themed rather than Labor Day specific. Still, overall incentives are moving up across the industry. The average new car sold for $32,301 in early July, according to CNW Research. That's $375 less than a year ago, and it's largely due to a spike in incentives. Total factory and dealer incentives — including things like cash and financing offers or higher trade-in allowances — amounted to $6,120. That's up $569 over July 2013.

Naturally, all these summer deals will vary by location and dealership, so check with your local dealer for details.

Cars.com photo by Kelsey Mays

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