Buying a New Car
- Be very careful about entering into a lease for a new car.
- Buy a new car at the right time. End-of-the-year sales (December and January) are good, and buy at the end of the week or month when car sellers are making their quotas.
- Test drive the car. Ask to take it over night or over the weekend so you spend adequate time in the car, and make sure you drive it on all road types.
Buying a Used Car
- It’s a good idea to start by shopping new cars and then looking for the models you like that are 1 to 2 years older.
- Don’t just use dealerships. Check out private sales in papers, local university sales-boards, auctions, and on-line sites like eBay Motors.
- It might be wise to buy a certified used car. These may be priced a bit higher than other used cars but should be guaranteed for 50,000 miles, have left-over factory warranties, and have been inspected by the dealership.
- Ask the seller for the maintenance records on the car.
- Check the car’s VIN number on Carfax or Autocheck for a complete report.
- Test the car carefully.
- Check the tire tread. Replacing tires is expensive.
- Brake hard to make sure the car does not pull.
- Step on the gas (0 to 60 mph) to check for the engine’s punch. Open all doors and windows.
- Put on the heat, the AC, and the blinkers. Sound the horn.
- Ask a friend to make sure all the lights are working
Make sure you have the car you’re considering checked by a certified mechanic (should cost about $60), and the best use of your time and the mechanic’s is to select your 2 or 3 top choices and have your mechanic compare as s/he checks them out.
- Make sure you get a bill of sale for the DMV. If you are dealing with a private owner who may not have this form, print it off free at Edmunds.com.
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