Top 10 Tips For Buying a Car in 2011
Top 10 Tips For Buying a Car in 2011
New or used, buying a car is expensive. In fact, it's the second-most expensive purchase that most consumers make next to a home. Strong research is the key to buying a car that doesn't make too big of a dent in your wallet. Here are 10 things to do before you head off to a dealer's lot.
10 car-buying tips
1. Determine your budget
2. Don't assume need to buy used
3. Research your car choices
4. Look at total cost of owning the car
5. Assess your insurance costs
6. Shop around for the best rate
7. Be cautious using financing
8. Know the invoice price
9. Research rebates and discounts
10. Look for dealer incentives
Tip 1Determine your budget
Don't head to a dealer's lot until you've decided on a budget. Start by using the home budget calculator to find out how much you can really afford. In general, aim to spend no more than 20% of your monthly household income on all costs associated with all of the cars in your household. That would include the cost of monthly payments, insurance, repairs, maintenance and fuel.
Tip 2Don't assume you need to buy used
Thanks to strong demand for used cars, they are more expensive than ever and it's harder to get a good deal. In addition, there are now more inexpensive new cars coming to market than in the past. In fact, there are more than 20 different new cars that have an MSRP of $15,000 or less.
Since interest rates are higher on used cars, you'll spend more in the long run on interest for a used car than a similarly priced new car, so the new car may actually be the wiser financial choice. To help you decide, read Bankrate's story on buying a car with $15,000.
Tip 3Research your car choices
You've probably already spotted some cars on the road that interest you, but take some time and research all your car choices. You'll be logging a lot of "seat time" behind the wheel for the next several years, so don't rush into a decision. Use the automaker websites and third-party, vehicle information sites such as Edmunds.com, KBB.com and NADAguides.com to get pricing information and learn about available inventory in your area. Visit local dealerships only after you've completed the majority of your research and have just a couple of cars in mind.
Tip 4Look at the total cost of owning the car
Cars whose monthly payment represents your total monthly budget will automatically put you in the red financially because you'll be over your budget when you factor in ownership costs. Choose cars that are at least 5% less than your monthly budget to give yourself some room to cover costs, including fuel, car insurance, repairs and maintenance.
Tip 5Assess your actual insurance costs
Your actual cost of car insurance can vary widely, depending on your personal driving record as well as certain household situations such as whether you have a teen driver. Once you have a few cars in mind, ask your current car insurance agent for quotes on all the cars you are considering and factor those numbers into your overall budget. To get an accurate quote, be prepared to tell the car insurance agent the exact make, including model, engine size and type, and specific options.
While automakers tout 0% financing and other low interest rates in advertising, only those with the best credit -- about 10% of car buyers -- actually qualify.
So, don't visit a dealership until you've researched the best interest rate you can get.
Use Bankrate's rate search tool to see current interest rates and also check with local lenders, including credit unions, which are 1% to 2% lower on average than conventional banks on car loans. There are now many community credit unions open to anyone living in their area, eliminating the need to work at a certain company or in a specific industry to join. Use CULookup.com to find a credit union you can join.
Tip 7Be cautious using manufacturer financing
Manufacturers want your business and they would prefer to sell you a car and provide you the financing, but that may not be the most financially savvy choice unless you qualify for a 0% car loan. Even with a low-interest-rate loan, you may be better off taking the cash rebate and getting a car loan elsewhere. Once you've determined your best interest rate, use the car rebate versus low interest calculator to determine the best deal.
Tip 8: Know the invoice price
Your initial research as you narrowed down your car choices may have given you the invoice price, but if it didn't (or you didn't note it), do so before you visit the dealer's lot. Visit several third-party car information websites and print out the invoice price for the specific cars you're considering, including model, engine type and size, and options.
While invoice pricing on third-party information websites isn't 100% accurate, it will give you a good idea of what the dealer paid for the car and it's the best number to start your negotiation. Keep in mind that the dealer needs to make at least a few hundred dollars in profit to cover the cost of running the dealership, in addition to the applicable fees listed on the invoice that dealers are charged by the manufacturer for every new car.
Tip 9Research cash-back rebates and personal discounts
With slower new-car sales than in past years, it's pretty common for manufacturers to offer cash rebates on many of their models as well as discounts that are based on the person who is buying the car.
Discounts are often offered to students or recent college grads, current and former members of the military, and even members of certain credit unions. These personal discounts, typically around $500, can be combined with each other and with the cash rebates on the model to give you substantial extra savings. While third-party information sites often list this data, it's best to check the financing section of the automaker's website for the most complete and up-to-date list of discounts.
Tip 10:Look for dealer incentives
In an effort to boost slow sales, manufacturers will sometimes offer dealers a cash incentive to sell a specific model and occasionally, for an entire brand. Cash incentives to dealers are often $1,000 and sometimes much more, depending on how anxious the manufacturer is to get rid of those cars.
This money can be used to further reduce the price of the car, but only if you know to ask for it. Use a third-party car information resource such as Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds.com to see what incentives are being offered to dealers on the cars you are considering.
|Thread Tools||Search this Thread|
All times are GMT. The time now is 09:49 PM.