This is a good time to buy a car.
Hefty cash rebates, ranging from $1,500 to $3,500 are common right
now. Do some online research before hitting the dealership and it
could save you money and headaches.
Be sure to visit several Web sites
when researching pricing information. Everything from sticker price
to customer rebate information may vary. It's wise to cover all
the bases. When in doubt, contact an auto manufacturer directly.
Review this checklist before
you go shopping:
Before you shop, know what you want, what
your budget is and what the bank's interest rate is on new and
used cars. Get pre-approved, if you can.
Beware of bait ads that you see on television or
in newspapers. A tiny disclaimer will give a stock number. That
car will either be gone when you get there or will be a blasé
car with no options or options no one wants. Most dealers use
this type of advertising.
Shop on your time. Negotiate and buy during the
last two days of the month and the last two working hours of the
Don't spend any money preparing your car for trade.
Swap out new tires, radios and trailer hitches with friends for
extra cash. Minimize your losses.
Don't go alone; take someone with you.
Don't get attached to a car before you buy.
Buy used cars from lots connected to new car dealerships.
They keep only the best trade-ins.
Get new and used car prices from the library, bookstore
or another dealer, or insist on seeing the dealer's invoice. Remember,
the dealer can survive selling his new cars at his invoice.
Ask competitive dealers about rebates and incentives
before you deal. Keep these rebates out of the negotiations and
deduct them from the bottom line.
Don't buy a used car from anyone without having
it checked out by an independent mechanic.
Buy on price -- not payment. Dealers can disguise
the real cost of a car by manipulating the down payment, monthly
payment and length of the loan.
Write down all variances, promises and add-ons
on the buyer's order, especially with used cars.
When trading, get back the keys to your trade-in,
before you start your negotiations, so you can leave at your will.
The average annual mileage on a used car is 15,000
miles. Most used cars die beyond 100,000 miles.
If a deposit is required, give a maximum of $100.
Cash, if you can, and get a receipt.
Do not get caught in the trading allowance trap.
Negotiate purchase and trade separately.
Preparation (PREP) fees cover the cost of getting
your car ready for delivery after it comes off the truck. Destination
fees (DOC) cover the cost of delivering the car from manufacturing
plant to dealership. These fees are usually not negotiable.
Refuse to pay for add-on items like undercoating,
fabric and paint protection, or items which should be included
with all cars.
Find the cost of tag and title from a competitor.
Insist that the dealer match or better your bank
finance rates. You can always use YOUR bank or credit union.
Dealers are not licensed insurance agents. Don't
buy credit life or disability insurance. If you think you need
it, talk to your personal licensed insurance agent.
Beware of extra warranties. All new cars now have
a 100 percent bumper-to-bumper warranty included. You can buy
a used car warranty after the original warranty runs out, if you
still have the car. Most warranties have at least a 50 percent
markup and all are negotiable.
Leasing is not for everyone. Once you sign, you
had better be prepared to keep the car for the full lease period.
Remember, lifestyles and incomes can change without warning, good
Gap insurance will cover the money gap between
a totaled car and a replacement car on leases. It is included
in most leases. Do not get double-dipped.
Get and maintain control through the entire buying
experience. Remember, it's your hard-earned money being spent,
and you can walk away any time you feel uncomfortable.