Don’t get robbed when you’re buying a car

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Maybe you’ve been dreaming of owning a mustang since you were in high school, or maybe you’ve been keeping your eye on that new Porsche that just came on the market, or maybe you’re looking for an economical car for your new family. Before you purchase your next car, check out our helpful car buying tips.

Do Your Homework

Buying a car is a rite of passage and typically the most expensive purchase (other than buying a home) that most people make. It makes economical and logical sense to do some legwork before you go to the dealership.

  • Narrow down your choices to a short list of vehicles. Then go online and see what dealers carry them. If you’re buying a used car, dealers should still have their used car inventory online as well.
  • Weigh the pros and cons of buying new vs. buying used vs. leasing. If you find yourself replacing your car every 2-4 years, then leasing is probably your best option since you’ll most likely still owe more money than what your car is worth. Also, if you have to finance an older car with fairly high mileage, you might also be better off with a lease. Older cars require more maintenance, but when you lease, more often than not, maintenance is included. Of course, excessive wear and tear never is so keep that in mind, too.
  • Know the best time to purchase. Although many dealerships make great deals at the end of the month, it’s not the only time to go. In fact, if you give yourself several days to make the deal, you’ll often get a much better deal. In the end, the dealer wants to sell the car. If you know you’re going in with a lot of questions, going in midweek during the day will give you the best opportunity to get quality one-on-one time with the sales team.
  • Set a realistic deal. If you’ve made the same offer to multiple dealerships and no one is going for it, you probably have your mind set on an unrealistic deal. Check your info and come back with a different offer.
  • Don’t be pressured. By doing your research ahead of time, you’ll be less likely to be pressured into a deal that is not right for you. Many times, dealers will push some great deal telling you that it won’t last, but most quotes are available the next day. (Of course, if it’s the last day of a special, that might be true). Often times, dealers do have better deals for you because they know all of the promotions going on. If they offer you a different deal that sounds better, go home and do your research if you don’t feel comfortable with it.
  • Look for deals online. Many dealerships offer extra discounts on their websites that they won’t tell you about when you’re on the lot. If you’re military or a student, there are often even more discounts available.

Know your numbers

  • Determine your budget. A general rule of thumb is to not exceed 20% of your household income when purchasing a car. But don’t forget to include the other costs of car ownership such as car insurance, repairs, maintenance, and gas.
  • Don’t rely on the dealership for financing. Unions, personal banks and universities often offer outstanding rates for financing a car. You’ll want to shop around and see who has the best interest rate and offer. It might be the dealership, but you won’t know until you ask around.
  • Read all contracts carefully. A lower car price with a higher interest rate will probably cost you more than the reverse. Make sure you know exactly what is in your contract before you sign. Many dealerships make extra money by offering extra packages that you might not need, such as a breakdown package. Your car insurance may offer one already.

Time to Drive

  • Test drive. Pictures may be worth a thousand words, but you’ll never know if a car is right for you without getting behind the wheel.
  • Bring your passengers. If you’re going to be driving around people regularly, bring them along for the test drive. The last thing you want is a teenager complaining about his knees hitting the back seat every time he gets in the car.
  • Bring your gear. If you’ve got young children, then chances are you’ve got a lot of gear. Ask if you can install the car seats in the car to make sure they fit. You don’t want to get your car home only to find out that you need new car seats, too!
  • Keep parking in mind. If you live close enough to the dealership, ask if you can drive the car to your home to make sure it’ll work where it will be parked everyday. You definitely don’t want to find out that it won’t fit in the garage next to the other car after you’ve made the purchase.

Good luck on your car purchase or new lease. If you live in Sacramento or anywhere else in California and you want to get a good rate on your car insurance, fill out our free online quote request and we’ll show you how much money you can save.


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