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6 Tips to Buying a Car
Many people are uncomfortable with the car-buying process, here are simple steps to getting a good deal on your next car.


John Dalog
It's easier to pick the car you want when you do research before walking onto the dealership.


Use one or two that you already know the answer to, and ask the salesperson to see if you get a straight answer... Any mistruths here are a clear indicator that you are talking to the wrong person.
Whether you are preparing for your first car-buying experience or youíve bought many, most of us worry that we're walking into the experience unprepared or are afraid of being taken advantage of when dealing with a car salesperson. You're in the fortunate position that you're not alone in this process, in that your spouse can give you a trusted second opinion.

Car salespeople have a reputationósome of it deservedóof swindling customers. But most of the time when a car buyer spends too much money, itís due to ignorance of the buying process. Here are six tips to save you from laying down too much cash for your next ride.

1. Find your make/model ahead of time. Do your homework before even entering a dealership. It is a typical sales process to start a prospect out in one car model and progressively move them into larger, more expensive cars because salesmen usually work off commission. Browse cars to familiarize yourself with the lineup and tell the salesperson which one you are shopping for. If youíre uncertain walking into a dealership, who knows what you might drive off with.

2. Donít be intimidated. Walk into a showroom and pick a salesperson who appears non-threatening to you. If you donít feel comfortable, pick someone else or just walk out. Remember, you donít owe anyone anything. You are the customer.

3. Write down some questions ahead of time. We usually think more clearly when at home or in a neutral setting. A showroom can be busy and stressful. Think of half a dozen questions about the car, the payment, the mileage or any other area that may affect your purchase. Use one or two that you already know the answer to, and ask the salesperson to see if you get a straight answer. For instance, read up on the crash-test data or the insurance rating. Any mistruths here are a clear indicator that you are talking to the wrong person.

4. Do not buy on the first trip. Break your shopping experience into at least two trips. Leave your identification and checkbook home just in case you are swept off your feet by a smooth operator. This tactic may save you from a knee-jerk impulse buy. Get a price, ask your questions, and get the salespersonís card. Let him or her know that you have to think about it, but donít leave without a price. Take notes too. Trying to remember everything a fast-talking salesperson says is next to impossible. It might make the process easier if you ask questions and your spouse takes notes, or vice versa.

5. Shop around. Youíve left with a price on the model that you want. Next, call two or three other dealers and see if they would match or beat that price. Make sure to know what options are included and how long the finance or lease period will be. Note what each says so you can use it during the negotiation process.

6. Close the deal. Assuming you are satisfied that the price is fair, call your salesperson back and verify the numbers again. Go over "up-fronts," or how much you will need to pay when you pick the car up. Also, verify monthly payments or final sale prices, depending on if the car is to be financed, paid in full or leased. Make sure these numbers donít differ from previous conversations. (Check those notes.)

Buying a vehicle is a big purchase, and you want to make sure you donít get pressured into buying something you ultimately don't wan'tóstick to your guns. Donít be pressured into changing your mind and remember, you can always walk away.

Ed Armbruster is a contributor to www.shopautoweek.com and spent much of his professional life in car dealerships, working as a technician, body shop manager and dealer operations manager. He offers his unbiased insights into a world that's mysterious even to some insiders.


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