Nissan offers 60-month, 0% financing on four 2011 models

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If you’re in the market for a new car, Nissan has some of the best financing deals out there.

From now until Oct. 3, you can finance a new 2011 Nissan Altima coupe or sedan, Quest minivan, or Frontier or Titan pickup at 0% APR for 60 months through Nissan Motor Acceptance Corp.

To qualify for this rate, you’ll need to meet the dealer’s credit score guidelines. (We've seen some places quote a minimum credit score of 690.)

The vehicle must be from new dealer stock (you can’t special order it) and the dealer may require a down payment.

The average cost of a 60-month new auto loan is 5.43% according to our latest survey, so these rates look excellent.

Of course, we think 0% financing is the best discount you can get on a new car or truck. But if you don't qualify for free financing, search our database of the best auto loan rates from several lenders in your area.

The manufacturer's suggested retail price for a basic Altima sedan starts at $20,270.

If you obtained 0% financing on this price for 60 months and didn’t make a down payment, your monthly payment excluding taxes and fees would be $337.83.

If you take out a 60-month loan of the same amount at 5.43%, your monthly payment would be $386.53.

Taking advantage of a 0% APR deal could shave about $50 off your monthly payments and save you almost $3,000 in interest charges over the life of the loan.

Use our auto loan calculator to help you budget your monthly payment.

If you need more time to pay, you could choose the 72-month option with 1.9% APR.

The difference between paying no interest on a $20,000 loan for 5 years and 1.9% interest on a $20,000 loan for 6 years is about $1,200.

Even though 1.9% is a great rate, since this offer only gives you an additional 12 months to pay off the vehicle, the 0% offer makes more sense.

Nissan also offers 0% APR for up to 36 months on the 2011 Maxima, Sentra, Versa, Rogue, Murano, XTerra, Pathfinder and Armada.

Sixty- or 72-month financing is available on many of these vehicles at 0.9%, 1.9% or 2.9% APR (offers vary by vehicle). These offers also expire Oct. 3.

A low interest rate isn’t the only thing that should play into your car-buying decision.

You’ll still be spending thousands of dollars, so you want to choose a car you’ll be happy with and that will meet your family’s needs for years to come.

Also, just because you’re getting a good financing deal doesn’t mean you shouldn’t negotiate the sticker price. Use our 6-step plan for driving the best deal.

If you’re looking for long-term value in addition to price savings, the Altima appears to be your best bet out of the four headline offers.

The Altima is a Consumer Reports recommended vehicle, with an overall score of 91 (the highest-rated family sedan scored a 93).

Edmunds also rates the Altima highly -- it scored average or above on all testing criteria, including performance, comfort, quietness, seat space and build quality.

What’s more, it is one of the top 10 least-expensive midsize sedans for 2011.

Don’t forget that you’ll have to pay taxes and fees on your new-car purchase.

On the Altima, estimated taxes and fees in the first year total $1,793, according to Edmunds.

You should also budget for maintenance and repairs, which Edmunds estimates at about $5,300 over five years.

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