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Old 01-08-2009, 02:44 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: NJ
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Drives: 09 370Z MB Sports M6
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Step 6: If you are trading in your old car

If you are trading in your old car to a dealer, you will probably not get as much money toward the price of a new car as you would have if you'd sold it yourself to a private party. However, trading in offers some advantages. You can solve all of your car-buying problems in one visit to the dealer. You can unload a hard-to-sell car with no newspaper ads, DMV lines or tire-kicking buyers involved. In some states, you will even pay less sales tax on a deal that involves a trade-in.

Begin the process by looking up your car's trade-in value on The True Market Value® (TMV®) Used Vehicle Appraiser will also give you trade-in values. After you plug in all of the vehicle's information (mileage, options, condition and colors) you will get a specific trade-in price. This will often be slightly different from the offers you get once you are on the car lot. At a dealership the value assigned to your trade-in varies based on the time of the month, the dealer's specific inventory and the used car manager's mood, but at least TMV will give you a rough idea of what your trade-in is worth.

If it's important to you to get the maximum value for your trade-in, you should visit several dealerships and solicit bids. Tell the salesperson that the sale of a new car will be contingent on the amount he or she will give you for your trade-in. Also, tell them you are visiting several dealerships. With a little legwork, you may be able to boost the price you get for your old car by several hundred dollars or more. Remember, the extra effort you spend in getting competitive bids is far less than what it would take to advertise, show and sell the car yourself.

Step 7: Negotiating for your lowest price

Many buyers like to handle the question of price before they even go to the dealer. Internet salespeople are willing to discuss price over the phone — even by e-mail. This wasn't the case a few years ago when the salesperson wanted you in his office before he would get down to brass tacks and talk price.

It's quite possible that, in your calls to various Internet departments, the selling price of the car has already come up. Often Internet salespeople will volunteer the selling price of their car since they know this is the make-or-break factor in most buyers' decision making process. If the price they've quoted is at or below's TMV, then you are already in the right range to buy the car. If you want to try to improve the deal, you have a few options.

Everyone has their own idea of what makes a good deal, but most people just want to know they got a fair price. Here, TMV will be your best guide. If you want to try for a rock-bottom price, start by getting bids from three local dealers. Follow this up by taking the lowest price, calling the two other dealerships and saying, "I've been offered this car at this price. If you beat it I'll buy it from you." They almost certainly will. However, keep in mind that you can't play this game forever. Eventually, they will give you a take-it-or-leave-it price. For more on getting the best price, read Negotiating 101.

Also, be warned that if you ask the dealer to cut his profit, he might try to take it back somewhere else. Remember, a good deal isn't just the lowest selling price. It's the lowest total out-the-door cost on a car that meets your needs. This means that to ensure you get a fair deal you have to be vigilant throughout the entire purchase process, even after you and the salesman agree on a price.

Step 8: Closing the deal

If you feel good about the price you have been quoted, it's time to take a look at the big picture. Many buyers focus on the cost of the car and ignore the related expenses. Besides the cost, you will have to pay sales tax and various fees which vary from state to state. These expenses can be estimated and totaled with the calculators.

The simplest way to estimate total cost is to ask the salesperson to fax you a worksheet and invoice before you go to the dealership. This way, you'll be able to review the figures in a relaxed environment. Compare the numbers from the dealership to those you have calculated and the TMV prices on

In some areas of the country, dealers have costs that don't show up on invoice prices. This means the invoice price of the car you are researching might not exactly match the dealer's invoice. Don't panic — and don't begin making accusations. can't track all regional fees, such as advertising costs. So, as a rule of thumb, consider the charges on the dealer's invoice to be nonnegotiable. However, if extra fees are written into the contract (such as "D&H" or "Administrative Costs") which seem bogus or redundant, ask to have them removed, or say you will take your business to another dealership. For more information about this crucial point in the process read Invoice Scams and Sudden Extras.

Step 9: Reviewing and signing the paperwork

At the dealership, you will be presented with the contract for your new car and a dizzying array of forms to sign. This might be done by the Internet salesperson you have been dealing with, or it could be done in a separate office by the finance and insurance (F&I) manager. If this happens, the F&I manager might try to sell you additional items such as extended service contracts, fabric protection, alarms or a LoJack vehicle locator. In most cases, we recommend turning down these extras — with the possible exception of the extended warranty, which provides peace of mind to some buyers. Additionally, it is worth noting that some states allow up to 60 days after purchase to cancel an extended warranty, but you should check local laws to confirm your options in your area.

To prepare yourself for the kinds of products that might be pushed on you, or inserted into the price without your knowledge, read High-Priced Dealer Add-ons.

If you have already seen a worksheet for the deal you've made, the contract should be a formality. Make sure the numbers match the worksheet and no additional charges or fees have been inserted. You will also be asked to sign various forms that register your new car and transfer ownership of your trade-in. Understand what you are signing and what it means. Ask questions if you don't understand, and don't ever feel like you have to hurry. Buying a car is a serious commitment and it's the F&I manager's job to ensure you are comfortable with every document involved. Remember, once you have signed there is no going back.

Step 10: Inspecting and taking possession of your new car

Most dealerships detail the car and provide a full tank of gas. You will have one more chance to inspect the car before you take possession of it. Make sure you walk around the car and look for scratches in the paint and wheels or dents and dings on the body. If you are paying for floor mats make sure they are included. If anything is missing, or if any work needs to be done, ask for a "Due Bill" that puts it in writing. You will then be able to come back and get the work done later.

As you drive away inhaling that new-car smell, there is only one more thing to be done: enjoy your new car.
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