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Buying a New Car

New Car Buying Tips

Buying a new automobile is an expensive purchase. To make a good decision when you shop for a new car, follow these tips:

Research first.

Before you visit a dealership, research vehicle makes and models at websites like

Set a budget.

Figure how much you can spend on a new automobile and stick to your budget. If you plan to finance your new car, compare rates from several lenders and make sure you can afford the monthly payment. Adding options will increase your total cost, so make sure you really want or need the options you select.

Read the fine print.

Advertised prices usually do not include taxes, license and title fees. Check to see if the ad includes freight and any other additional costs like dealer markup or options. Arm yourself with knowledge by learning car shopping terms.

Consider shopping online.

​New car dealers have salespeople who work with potential buyers via the Internet. After you determine the make and model of car you want, you can contact local dealers online, find out if they have your car on the lot, and get prices. Let them know you are communicating with their competitors. Compare offers from various dealers at home before you visit any dealerships.

Take a test drive.

Drive the car on different types of roads and for long enough to check the acceleration, braking, steering and stability. Make sure the features you want operate to your satisfaction.

Beware of ad-ons.

The dealer may try to add-on certain charges, like service contracts, documentary fees, extended warranties and credit insurance. Look at these carefully to make sure you don’t pay for anything you don’t want or need.

Negotiate the price.

Find out the invoice price (lowest price) of the model and the options you want at Internet sites like www.nadaguides and Negotiate up from the invoice price, not down from the sticker price. Markups from the invoice price vary from model to model and dealer to dealer. Visit several dealerships and compare their final sales quotes to get the best price.

What is your car worth?

If you are replacing an existing car, determine its resale value online or at your local library, bank or insurance agency. You might get more for your car if you sell it yourself. If you plan to trade it in, negotiate the best price on the new car you plan to purchase before you negotiate the trade-in amount

Don’t be pressured.

Don’t sign a contract or pay a deposit unless you are ready to make the purchase. If you aren’t ready, tell the salesperson you need time to consider the offer. If the salesperson continues to pressure you, leave.

Understand the contract.

Loan terms are often complex. They may include extra fees that make it hard to determine your actual cost. If the deal is being financed by the auto dealership or a lender solicited by the dealer, make sure the contract states the interest rate, also known as the annual percentage rate (APR). It should also contain everything you and the dealer have agreed upon. Don’t rely on verbal promises, and never sign a contract that contains blank spaces.

Remember, the contract is binding.

Make sure the contract states that you can void the agreement and get your down payment back if the dealer does not meet any part of the agreement. Unless the contract specifically says otherwise, you can’t cancel it once you and the dealer have signed it.

Assistance is available.

Many consumers feel at a disadvantage when negotiating with car dealers. To address this problem a new breed of car buying services has emerged. Credit unions, AAA, Costco and other businesses and organizations offer various types of car buying assistance to their members. These services, which work best with frequently-purchased cars that are commonly found in dealers’ inventories, can save consumers time, money and aggravation.

Remember that the dealer must maintain the dealer’s tags and insurance on the vehicle until the purchase transaction is finalized.

We Can Help

If you have a complaint about auto sales contact us for help or call toll-free within North Carolina 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.