Buying a Car

Buying a car can be daunting. Should I buy new or used? Should I negotiate? Before you go shopping, here are a few tips to help make the process run smoother.

  • What’s Your Budget? Before you end up at a dealership and in love with that beautiful red Jaguar, you need to review your income and expenses, and find out exactly what you can afford. Our online calculator can assist you in getting that information.

  • New or Used? New cars cost more, but are generally more reliable and come with manufacturer warranties. Used cars offer great savings, but bring along some risks, such as unexpected repairs. The decision between used and new may depend entirely on your budget.

  • Research, Research, Research. Read consumer reports, reviews, and peer reviews. Consider side-by-side comparisons and safety data. The Kelley Blue Book is a publication that lists the value of most cars. If you’re considering a used car, consult this publication to see the car’s worth and resale value.

  • Shop Around. You should definitely visit different dealerships to compare the prices of the car you want. Find a dealer you’re comfortable with. If you work with your credit union, you may already have financing lined up and know exactly what you can afford. This will help you make the smartest choice when shopping at a dealership.

  • Test Drive. It’s important to test drive. It will give you an idea of how the car will drive and the roominess of the interior. If possible, take family members and/or friends for feedback and to see how practical the car will be.

  • Negotiate. Once you’ve selected your car, consider negotiating the price. The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP), also known as “sticker” price, is a recommended selling price that automakers give a new car. This will give you a baseline for negotiating with a dealer. Some experts say you should always negotiate, but it’s really up to what you’re comfortable with, and if you can afford the price as presented by the salesperson/dealer.

  • It’s a Lemon. Most states have some sort of "lemon law" that protects you from dealers who misrepresent the cars they sell. Make sure you take action within the time limits if you're unfortunate enough to have this kind of problem. Also for used cars, protect yourself by getting a CarFax or AutoCheck report. These reports will tell you if the car has been flooded, salvaged, junked, been in a major accident, had its airbags deployed, had multiple owners, been branded as a lemon, etc. They will also tell you the last recorded mileage. Many sellers will provide the report to you. If not, you can purchase one for less than $35.

In the end, you must make a decision based on your needs and desires, while also keeping in mind to buy a car that won't be an extra burden on your pocket.

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