Buying a car is often perceived to be a difficult and confusing process. If you take the time to learn what you need to know before purchasing a vehicle, the entire process is relatively simple and straightforward. So, how much do you know about buying a car?
The most important thing about buying a used car is that you know everything about the history of the car, including: the number of previous owners, if the car was ever involved in an accident, any previous mechanical problems and the maintenance history of the car.
A used car's mileage affects its selling price. For instance, the more miles the car has logged, the lower the cost of the car. Because high mileage can decrease the selling price, some unscrupulous people practice odometer fraud. Although it's a crime to try to "roll back" or change the odometer reading, that doesn't stop people from doing it.
The listed prices are usually for cars that are in good condition with "reasonable mileage" -- about 12,000 miles per year. If a car has a much higher mileage or if it's in poor condition, the sale price should be lower than what's listed in the guide.
When you're just starting out, a good first step is to go to the manufacturers' Web sites to check out the cars and the available options. You can usually find local dealers and request quotes or see the Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price (MSRP).
Never sign an "As Is" statement. Many used car dealers will mix that in with the other paperwork you'll be asked to sign. As with anything that requires a signature, READ BEFORE YOU SIGN. You should have at least 30 days to make sure the car is in good condition. If you sign an "As Is" statement, once you drive the vehicle off the lot, anything that goes wrong is your problem.
There are two times of the year in which you will get the best price on a car: the last two weeks of December and July to October.
The sticker price (or intended retail price) is what the dealer would like you to pay. It includes the MSRP, additional options and accessories and the delivery or destination charge.
If you feel that you have been sold a "lemon" or a bad car, you do have recourse. All states have "lemon laws" that pertain to new car purchases. These laws allow you to take action against a dealer for selling you a bad car. If you feel you have been cheated, find out what you can do about it by visiting the Better Business Bureau Law Program.
The low Annual Percentage Rates (APR) that dealerships and car companies advertise on television are the interest rates the dealer charges for financing. Often, those low rates are only for people with perfect credit or they are an introductory rate, meaning they will go up after a certain period of time.
Don't give the dealer your license or social security number.