First, go to your bank or credit union and prequalify for a car loan or apply online. That tells you how much car you can afford and what type of monthly payment you will have to budget.
Buy your new car from a no-haggle dealership. In most cases, you’ll save money and the process of buying will be faster and easier.
Look at cars when a dealership is closed, so there’s no salesperson to pressure you.
The best way to test-drive a car is to rent it for a day or two. It’s the ultimate test drive and it’s not expensive.
Use the Internet to find out the dealer cost of the vehicle and the options you want. Update!
Start your research with at least two different vehicles in mind. Then check out the price, reliability, and cost to insure each of the cars you’re considering.
When you’ve narrowed the search to one or two vehicles and have the actual dealer cost for each, shop online for instant price quotes.
If you prefer not to buy online, use the online price quotes as a guideline and call the dealers to see if they’ll match the price quote.
If you choose to negotiate with a traditional car dealer, be prepared for a difficult process.
When you go into the dealer to sign the paperwork, make sure what is on the purchase agreement is what you’ve agreed to previously by phone or fax. If it’s not the same, do not go through with the deal.
The best way to protect yourself in a dealership is to be willing to walk out.
• Arrange your financing first
• Check Consumer Reports’ listings of car models that have performed well. Don’t buy any car on the magazine’s list of used cars to avoid
• Find out what you should pay by checking prices at edmunds.com or kbb.com, or ask a friend to look for you.
• Have a used car inspected by a diagnostic mechanic, to see if it’s been wrecked or has any major defects.
• Pay for a report on the car at carfax.com. It’s worth it.
• Don’t buy from an old-style used-cars-only lot.