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7 Effective Car Buying Guidelines

Discussion in 'Car Sales, Dealers, Repairs, Lemon Law' started by Michael Wechsler, Feb 19, 2002.

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  1. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Law Topic Starter Administrator Staff Member

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    <b>1. Focus on the Cash Price of the Vehicle</b>
    <p>One primary goal of consumer laws dealing with industry pricing and financing is to provide the consumer with a meaningful ability to comparison shop. Focusing on the cash price of the transaction, rather than monthly payments, is more meaningful and efficient. Trade-in offers should be made in writing and based upon the cash value of the vehicle. Frequently dealers will use the "overallowance" method by giving you a price for the vehicle and making back the price difference and much more in your need to purchase extras or finance at a high percentage rate. Target the dealer's cost and not the sticker price of the vehicle. Most importantly, be careful in choosing your first offer price so that it leaves you room for negotiation.</p>

    <b>2. Pricing Guides May Vary Greatly</b>
    <p>The "blue book" value of a car, such as those listed by NADA, the National Automobile Dealers Association, may only list the estimated retail price of a vehicle and does not list the true market price and trade-in value. Additionally, the formulas used to compute these prices may vary greatly. You are best served using several different guides and being sure to analyze the different methods utilized.</p>

    <b>3. Have a Full, Independent Checkup Prior to Purchase</b>
    <p>It is best to have an experienced, independant mechanic inspect the vehicle before purchase. If the seller refuses, you should reconsider your decision to purchase at this establishment.</p>

    <b>4. Beware of Hidden Costs</b>
    <p>Document Preparation Fees are a hidden fee which may be charged to you by a dealer and pricing may well be limited by state law to only a few dollars. It is not uncommon for dealers to omit this detail during negotiations and attempt to charge a hefty fee when you are nearing completion of the deal. Additionally, extended warranties may not turn out being a good deal for you and may actually duplicate the existing manufacturer's warranty. Be sure to read and compare both sets of warranties before making any decision. Extras may be overpriced and included free from your insurance company, such as the service to etch the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) in various easily visible areas of your car. You do have to be an advertisement for the dealership in using special license plate covers or other methods of promotion. Some states fine dealers who provide such on your vehicle without your permission. Ask about any and all additional fees when finalizing the purchase price of your new vehicle.</p>

    <b>5. There is No Federal "Cooling Off" Period</b>
    <p>Unless otherwise guaranteed to you in writing or pursuant to some specific law for your jurisdiction, there is no 24 or 72 hour period of time which you have to change your mind. Be very careful before you sign on the dotted line as you will probably not be able to return a "used" car later.</p>

    <b>6. The Pressure Should Flow in Both Directions</b>
    <p>As much as you want to take advantage of the "limited time offer," the dealership wants to make the sale. Some salespersons may choose their words carefully and give you the impression that you are getting something special when, in fact, this may not be the case. Do not be afraid to walk away from the deal and investigate elsewhere. In fact, a salesperson may be willing to make you an even better offer to prevent losing the sale and commission in its entirety.</p>

    <b>7. Ownership History is Useful</b>
    <p>You should inquire about a vehicle's entire prior history and ownership before purchase. You may discover an accident history, odometer fraud, or whether the car has been previously declared a lemon. Contacting the prior owner(s) may provide you with such information. Several states prohibit the seller from concealing these facts when requested by the buyer of a motor vehicle.</p>
    Best of luck and enjoy your new car!
     

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