Buy a car like a pro

By Paula Felps 

Buying a new car is a lot like going to the dentist: nobody really wants to go through it, but we all want the impressive results that come from the visit. According to Alan Ramsdell at Auto Buying Consultants of Maine, there’s good reason to be wary when entering the car lot. But doing some research beforehand can help you land a great deal on wheels.

“Most people put all their research into the car they want to buy, and they don’t pay enough attention to the car they’re trading in,” he says. “They let the dealership undervalue their trade by thousands of dollars.”

Do your homework

Knowing what you can get for your trade-in is the first step in ensuring a fair deal. But before heading to the dealership, here are some other things to check on:

  • Rebates. There are numerous rebates available to help save money. Visit Consumer Reports online to get an update on current offers.
  • Financing. You may pay more in hidden costs if you get financed through the dealership, so Ramsdell recommends checking all sources of financing for the best rate. Some banks will offer lower rates than the dealerships but from time to time dealerships will advertise financing specials that would be more beneficial than financing with a bank or credit union.
  • Aftermarket markups. Extended warranties, undercoatings, Scotchgard—they’re all “extras” that are encouraged at the end of the sale. Research what you need … and pass up what you don’t.
  • Go certified. If you’re buying used, certification programs ensure that the car is approved for resale by the manufacturer—and it will carry a 12-month, bumper-to-bumper warranty, just like a new car.
  • Know when to leave. If the deal doesn’t seem right, don’t hesitate to get up and leave.
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