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Car Buying Tips
Photo: Michal Rybski
My three-month stint as a sales representative in the car business was an eye-opening time of discovery and jaw-dropping realizations that many car dealerships (including the one that I was working for) were less than scrupulous. I left that job in disgust after witnessing the financial fleecing of a young couple with a new baby. In that transaction, there was only one winner….the dealership.

Years later I taught consumer advocate classes on how to get the best deal on a new vehicle. Class attendees were excited to learn that thousands could be saved simply by knowing what to do. Here are a few tips that might be helpful if you’re contemplating a vehicle purchase.

1. Be informed. With web sites like www.edmunds.com and www.kbb.com (the Kelly Blue Book site), there is no reason why anyone should pay more than they have to. These informative sites list manufacturers’ suggested retail prices (MSRP) for most vehicles, and often give you inside information on safety ratings, popularity, and re-sale value of cars, pickups and SUVs. Being an informed consumer gives you the buying edge.

2. Be calculated. Start looking before you actually need another car. Undo pressure to find a vehicle because yours is no longer running can work against you, especially when your options are limited. Decide which brand and model will best suit your needs before you begin your search. Never make final decisions in the car lot. You haven’t lost anything if you go home and think about it.

3. Timing is everything. December is usually a good month to purchase a new car or truck because car dealerships are ordinarily slow during the holiday rush. Keep in mind, they want you to purchase a vehicle as much (or perhaps more) than you need to purchase one. Take your time, do your homework, and cross-check everything in the transaction.

4. Learn the tricks of the trade. By putting in some time with a consumer advocate website or two, you can learn some of the tricks that dealers often employ to get more of your hard earned money. Place the phrase, “car buying tips” in the search engines, and discover less-than-honest techniques used against unsuspecting buyers. There are many dishonest people in our world (whether we like it or not), and understanding their game plan can keep you from making costly blunders.

5. Don’t buy new. Purchasing a vehicle that’s two years or older from a private party can save you a bundle. Employ the information found at www.edmunds.com to discover current market prices for the model year you’re looking at. Keep in mind that new doesn’t necessarily mean better.

Oh, and there’s one more thing that the auto pros won’t tell you to do – ask God to direct your family to a vehicle that will serve you well. Our Creator cares about everything that affects our lives and can help us make good decisions, even when it comes to the vehicles we need.

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By Michael Temple. Copyright © 2010 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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