Friday, September 10, 2010

..How Not to Buy a Car

..How Not to Buy a Car
by Anna Prior
Friday, September 10, 2010
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Buying your first car? Be sure to arm yourself with research before trotting off to the dealership.

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"Confusion is a car dealer's weapon," says Philip Reed, senior consumer-advice editor at "The more focused and in control of the numbers you are," the more likely you'll have a positive outcome.

[Click here to check auto rates in your area.]

Here are four common mistakes first-time car buyers make and how to avoid them.

1. Going to the dealership without financing.

One of the trickiest parts of buying a car is the financing, or loan you have to take out in order to pay for the vehicle.

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"The 0% financing that's advertised is top-tier financing and might not be available for you," says Mr. Reed. "If you don't have a credit history or much of one, you might not have the credit score required for that level of car loan."

That doesn't mean that you can't get a good rate. Just be prepared to shop around. Compare rates at websites like

Find out what you qualify for before going to the dealership, so you have a backup in case you get turned down or can negotiate a better interest rate at the dealership.

Say you get approval for up to $25,000 at 6% from a bank and receive a no-obligation check. You then go into the dealership and see if you can do better.

"If they can beat your rate, you go with them," says Mr. Reed. "If they can't beat it, you know you won't be exploited."

2. Not shopping online.

Many dealerships have an Internet department that doesn't get paid on commission like the salespeople.

The buyer benefits because the worker's job is to get volume out the door, which means you are "less likely to have games played with those guys," says Jeff Ostroff, founder of the website

Once you've found an acceptable quote and financing, ask if you can have the car delivered to your home. That way, you can skip going to the dealership in person, where the salesperson has the opportunity to rewrite your contract and sell you expensive extras, says Mr. Reed.

To encourage the dealer to deliver the car, make your offer contingent on free delivery.

3. Paying for extras.

VIN etching, dealer prep, fabric protection—these are all unnecessary extras, each costing at least a couple hundred dollars, that a dealer might try to sell you on before you sign the contract.

The one extra that could potentially be of some value, says Mr. Reed, is an extended warranty if you plan on owning the car for a long time. If you go the warranty route, he suggests calling ahead to negotiate the price before showing up to sign the contract. However, even the warranty isn't completely necessary. "I try to buy a very reliable car and just treat it well," says Mr. Reed.

4. Buying a used car without research.

You can't always tell what's wrong with a used car just by looking at it, so be sure to get a copy of the vehicle history report and to have your mechanic check it out.

"Always double protect yourself before buying," says Mr. Ostroff. In addition to checking out the vehicle history on or, he suggests having your mechanic put the car up on a lift to check out everything underneath.

Lease the damn car. If you get into a accident, you have their car repaired and you give it back. Today, all dealers have a paint gauge which computes the depth of the paint, and the value of the car goes down by five grand and more once they find out it has been painted. If you like the car, you have a chance to buy it at the end of the lease it's your option. It doesn't cost that much more money for this option and you don't have to hassle with trade in baloney which is where the new car dealers make their money; offers starting at least $3000 below actual value, and sometimes significantly less.

I've notice the best time to lease is at the end of the year, some leases are offered by the auto manufacturer with favorable rates and lower down payments.

To figure out the true cost of a lease multiply the dealers mo cost times times the months, and add the down payment, sales taxes, and bank fees. Divide that number by the months and you have the true number.

BEWARE of dealers that advertise a specific VIN number. What they try to say is that the car is not available or the deal is ONLY for that vehicle and it must be delivered that day. I actually got all the way to the finance guy at a Honda dealer in Mt. Kisco New York, and the guy refused to sell the car because he would take a loss.Reply.0 users liked this comment

0 users disliked this commentCristina 1 minute ago Report Abuse back in 2004, i was 19 yrs old, i went on line i saw the truck of my dreams, trail blazer 2004 brand new! i call the dealer, i schedule a time to see it and drive it, i fell in love! they ask me for my information, they make the copies of what ever they need it, i left with an hour of my arrival, they call me back that evening, i was approved for my loan at the rate of 4%, i said yes and they delivery the blazer next day, on a sunday for free. i had it for 4 years before i passed it on to my brother!

a dealer experience, wow, i spend there hours and hours with a pregnant belly and a guy asking me when was my due day, and i said, "tomorrow if not today"' he laughed, "no seriously, tomorrow, that's why im here today, cause i won't have time for this later", then he did hurry up to get me out of there!Reply.0 users liked this comment

1 minute ago Report Abuse Salesmen are not all so much crooks. Just more like uneducated turds who sit around a heated or cooled building all day talking about sports and golf scores and doing tons of unprioductive things to burn up the day. Then on occasion they get a mibble on the line and get to try and real in their fish.

You know what I like, I like a salesman who knows that car inside and out. They have driven it, or own it and have spent so much time around it they can tell me without a second thought if the headliner is tacked in or glued in. If the hood has lifters or needs to be propped up. They should Live and breath their cars and products, they should not sit around talking about Brett Favre's interception from the night before or other crap. You want to earn that 3 to 4 grand mark up? Then WOW me.

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