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13 Car Buying Tips and Tricks

Next to housing, buying a car is one of the most important purchases you’ll ever make. It is a big ticket item that requires a lot of research, time, and effort. Ultimately you are stuck with your choice, good or bad once you’ve made it. Looking to avoid the drama and frustration of car buying? See our car buying tips and tricks below to get you started:

The Importance of a Test Drive

When purchasing a new car, ALWAYS take it out for a test drive. You need to know how the car will perform on the road and highway. Don’t let the salesman limit your test to a couple of circles around the parking lot. If you commute, drive the car in both stop-and-go traffic and at freeway speeds. If you frequently drive into the mountains, try to find some steep grades to climb. If a car isn’t up to the job you need it to do, then buying it is a waste of money.

Negotiating a Good Car Price

When you’re ready to purchase a new car, don’t even think about paying the sticker price. It’s been artificially inflated and there is plenty of room for negotiation. You should also be sure to ask about incentives and rebates that may not be noted on the sticker. Often, incentives come in the form of a cash rebate or low-interest financing.

Small Cars

When buying a new car, consider smaller models. They’re often cheaper because they’re lighter and they usually get better gas mileage.

Don’t Buy a Used Car “As is”

When buying a used car, never sign any paperwork saying that you are buying the car “as is”. Get it in writing that you can return the car in 15-30 days if there are any pre-existing major problems. This will give you a chance to have the car checked out thoroughly by a mechanic you trust. A car may look pretty on the lot, but somewhere deep under the hood, the only thing preventing a major mechanical problem could be a layer of duct tape.

Control the Car Sales Process

When car shopping, don’t hand over your license to take a test drive or the car salesman may use it as leverage to keep you there longer. Their strategy is to keep you there a long time and wear you down so they can get the upper hand on the deal. Bring a photocopy of your license, and don’t forget to get it back when you leave.

Consider a Used Car

According to Consumer Reports, on average, a car loses 45% of its value over the first three years, compared to 25% over the next three. This means that a car that may have cost $27,000 brand new could be purchased for under $15,000 three years later. Considering that cars are more reliable than they used to be and less vulnerable to rust and corrosion, a three-year-old car could easily last another five to ten years.

Check Used Car History

If purchasing a used car is the best option for you, be sure to check the car’s history to avoid owning a huge problem. For $25, carfax.com will let you check an unlimited number of vehicle histories. Some of the things that would turn up would be if the car had been brought back by the manufacturer for being a “lemon”, or if it had ever been considered to be totaled in an accident. This is important information before purchasing your next car.

Certified Pre-Owned

If you have a particular car in mind, but can’t justify the price tag of this year’s model, consider buying an earlier model year that is “certified pre-owned”. To be certified, cars must meet age and mileage requirements established by the manufacturer. Certified Pre-Owned cars also usually come with a warranty, features, and financing rates much like buying new, but with a much lower price.

Car Dealer Audio System

Car dealers make money on selling you the extras, one of those extras being the super-deluxe sound system with a 12-CD changer in the trunk. Bunk! You’ll pay up to 100% more than you will by buying the basic system and replacing it at any auto sound system place.

Car Buying Strategy

Do a little homework before showing up in the showroom to get the best deal on purchasing a car. Once you’ve selected the type of car you want, email, call or fax all of the dealerships in your area and ask for a written price quote. With price quotes, you have something in writing that you can show salespeople. This shows you are not bluffing. Your greatest advantage is that the dealer needs to sell cars, but you don’t have to buy one from him.

Car Buying Service

If you’re not a good negotiator, don’t get taken advantage of by a skilled car salesman, let a professional help you get the best deal. Some organizations, such as automobile clubs, credit unions, wholesale clubs, or even AARP include this as a benefit for their members. Check to see if you are eligible for this benefit with any organizations to which you already belong.

Buying the Car You Need

When you’re in an auto showroom evaluating a new car for purchase, don’t be influenced by the salesperson’s pitch and never buy a car because of its eye-catching style. A new car is a big investment; so make sure you spend enough time really looking at for its value…not its look. Don’t be distracted by ‘what’s available’. Stay focused on what features you require and take your time to make a well thought-out decision.

Avoid Dealers’ Contracts

When purchasing a new car, be extremely wary of purchasing service contracts or extended warranties on new automobiles through your dealer. Many of them have very limited coverage (in spite of what the salesman may lead you to believe) and they cost much more than policies purchased directly from providers like warrantydirect.com, vin-check.net, or extended-warranty.info.

Try one or all of our car buying tips and tricks to make your next car buying experience less of an ordeal.

Struggling with debt can seriously affect your decision to buy a car. CareOne Credit providers are here to help you manage your debt. A personalized debt relief plan from CareOne can help you lower your monthly payments, interest rates and much more.

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