Transportation headaches can greatly complicate our lives adding stress, wasting time, costing money, and even jeopardizing jobs. Paying too much for a car that breaks down just adds fuel to the fire. Following are some common-sense steps that can help ensure you get a reliable car at a fair price.
Paying a Fair Price:
First, if you can’t afford to pay cash for a vehicle, you should arrange your own financing through your credit union or your bank before you start shopping for cars. Most of the profit the dealership makes, and a sizable chunk of your pay- ment, comes from the higher interest rate that the dealership will arrange when they arrange the terms of the loans. Most dealerships will tell you that they have obtained the best possible rate for you-don’t believe it. You can obtain the best rate for yourself, again, through your own credit union or bank.
Second, do not lease. There are rare exceptions where a lease makes sense when it involves a small business or self-employment, but for the most part, leasing is a bad idea. Third, as a general rule, you shouldn’t pay over $2,000 or $3,000 for any vehicle over 10 years old, unless you know the vehicle’s history or you’re buying it from a trusted relative or friend.
Finding a Dependable Car:
Once you’ve limited your search to a specific vehicle, obtain a Carfax on that vehicle – it is well worth the cost of the report (typically $30) to help verify that the vehicle has a clean history. Secondly, if the Carfax report is clean, you should consider asking to take the vehicle for an inspection away from the dealership, by a mechanic certified by that vehicle’s manufacturer. If you’re looking at a used Chevy being sold by a Ford dealership, you want to take that Chevy to a Chevy dealership to have it inspected. The cost of inspection is typically around $80 to $100; this is money well spent on the front end to avoid any unpleasant and potentially costly surprises down the road. If the dealership won’t let you do this, you don’t want to do business with that dealership.
Don’t give up your rights:
Warranties differ greatly from sale to sale. Read your warranty documents and make sure you understand what protection you are getting and what protection you are not getting prior to signing the contract.
Finally, make sure you’re not waiving your legal rights. Do not agree to a binding arbitration. Recently, dealerships have been slipping anti-consumer arbitration terms into their contracts which effectively stamps out your most important legal rights. If the dealership insists on making you sign an arbitration clause, you do not want to do business with that dealership.