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Tips for buying a new car

Tips for buying a new car
I loathe the process of having to buy a new car. Dealing with pushy, overbearing car salesmen can be extremely frustrating. As a result, I do whatever I can to avoid buying a car. I perform all recommended DIY car maintenance checks, I keep my vehicle for as long as I can, and I consolidate my trips both to save on gas and decrease wear and tear on my car.

However, buying a car at some point in time is a reality that we all have to face. I’ve compiled a list of several important car buying steps that you should follow. Heeding the advice in this article will help you save money, get the best deal, and hopefully, reduce the amount of stress involved with purchasing a vehicle.

Important Tips for Buying a Car
1. Do Your Research
The most important thing to know before you buy a car is that knowledge is power. It’s a mistake to arrive at a car lot without first researching the car you want to buy. You can find out just about anything you want to know about a car online. Auto Trader, Consumer Reports, Kelley Blue Book, and the Yahoo! Autos section are great places to start researching cars in your price range.

Also, if you are considering buying a new car, your goal is to find the “invoice” price of the car, not the MSRP. The “invoice” price is what the dealer paid the manufacturer for the car. This research will come in handy once the price negotiations begin.

On the other hand, if you are thinking about buying a used car, research the recent resale prices for that specific car model. This data will give you major bargaining power. If you plan to trade in your current car, research market values for your vehicle, too. Knowing the value of your trade-in can also be a powerful bargaining tool.

2. Look into Pre-financing Options
Many people obtain financing from the car dealership, but this isn’t fiscally responsible. Dealership interest rates are typically much higher than loan rates obtained from banks and credit unions. Your bank or credit union is one of the best places to start researching car loan rates, and you can obtain “relationship discounts” that you won’t find anywhere else.

Although you may not find the best deals online, you can also use the Internet to review current interest rates. Websites like MoneyAisle can provide up to date information when you need to research car loans. Finally, once you obtain a quote from any financial institution, get the quote in writing. You can then present this quote to the dealership and use it as leverage to negotiate a lower interest rate.

3. Shop Around
Unless there is an emergency situation, shop around before you buy a car. I have an established rule in place whenever I shop for a car: I always make sure that I walk out of at least one dealership. This way, I always know their rock-bottom price, often given to me just before I leave. It might also make sense to explore out-of-town car dealerships. Dealerships price their vehicles differently depending upon their location.


4. Negotiate Terms
To me, buying a car is either a chess match, or it’s a war. Next to buying a house, purchasing a new car is one of the most important investments you will make in life. In fact, you may be paying off this car for the next four, five, or six years.

Let the salespeople know up front that you’re not going to be taken for a ride. Do everything you can do to negotiate the car loan and knock the purchase price down. Start with a ridiculous number, and work backwards. If the salesperson gives you an offer that includes a monthly payment of a certain amount based on a 60-month loan, tell them you want the same payment with a 48-month loan.

Walk into the dealership with confidence, stick to your guns, and don’t feel bad about walking away from any offers. It might also be helpful to practice your negotiation strategies and tactics to prepare.

5. Look at Both New and Used Cars
In the past, buying a gently used car was the best way to save money when purchasing a vehicle. A big reason behind this logic is that new cars depreciate considerably the moment they are taken home from the dealership.

Unfortunately, the supply of used cars has decreased dramatically after many were removed as part of the “Cash for Clunkers” program. In addition, more people are holding onto their cars for longer periods of time before looking for a replacement. As a result, prices for used cars have increased significantly, making new cars a more realistic option.

Ultimately, make sure to go into the buying process with an open mind, considering both new and used cars and running the numbers before making your final decision.

6. Buy Based on Purchase Price, Not on Monthly Payments
Car dealers are notorious for offering a very attractive monthly payment to potential buyers. Do not be misled. If this “wonderful” payment is attached to a 72-month loan, then it’s really not that attractive at all.

Be sure to always negotiate based on the purchase price of the car, and not the monthly payment. Also make sure that you know the “full” purchase price of any car that you buy. There could be many extra, hidden costs factored into the price including various taxes, car preparation and delivery fees, and dealership costs that you won’t know about unless you ask.
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