Car Buying Tips To Outsmart Dealerships

Simple steps to save you money

Buying a car is a huge occasional purchase that can, when considering all the available choices while weighing needs versus wants, can seem overwhelming. As with buying any big-ticket purchase, consumers can largely avoid bad deals and financial stress by arming themselves with the right information. There are distinct considerations for used and new car purchases, but these tips can be applied to both.

How to save money at the dealership.

Forget Payments, Talk Price. Dealers will try selling you to a payment per month rather than the price of a car. And when you go that route, nothing in the transaction is as transparent as it should be. Extending your loan period for a more expensive car will give you a lower monthly payment, but will probably mean you're making car payments once your new car is no longer a 'new' car. It's better to buy what you can afford in 48 or 60 monthly payments. In short, get your new car paid off while it's still a new car.

Control Your Loan. For many dealers, the car or truck sale is simply the mechanism for the financing. And even with today's low interest rates, dealers can make real money off interest alone, a disincentive to giving you a truly competitive interest rate. Getting pre-approved for a loan before you walk in the dealership door will let you know exactly how much you can afford, often at a better APR then the dealership can offer.

Avoid Advertised Car Deals. Dealerships will list their very best deal in the paper or online with little or no intention of keeping that specific deal in stock. Don't be enticed by a car or truck you won't be able to buy. Instead, do the research on the car you want and what it should cost. Starting out armed with information, via sites such as Autoblog's Best Deal Program makes you a savvy consumer and, ultimately, provides a better, more credible transaction.

Don't Feel Pressured. Buying a car is a major purchase, one that – in all likelihood – you'll have for quite a while. And given your long-term commitment to what you buy, there's no real need to rush it. Make the choice when you're ready, and only when you are ready.

Keep Clear Of Add-ons. Add-ons are lucrative; if they weren't the dealer wouldn't modify new cars to include them. And there's always another product or warranty the dealer wants to sell you, but they add up fast and (generally) aren't worth the money. If, however, you intend to hold onto your car beyond the factory warranty coverage, an extended warranty – at a fair price – remains a good decision.

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