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Car Buying Guide: Tricks to Save Thousands

How to Finance a Car the Smart WayFor most people, cars are your second biggest expense (after housing). We either love cars or love to hate them, but either way, we spend a lot of money on them.

We’ve put together this car buying guide to help you navigate the process of buying (or selling) you’re next new-to-you car.

Car Buying Guide

Whether it’s your first time buying a car or your fiftieth, the dealers always have new tricks up their sleeves.

Consider how much you can afford.

Vehicles are not an investment. It’s an emotional thrill to buy a new car, but a used car is a far better value.

Do your homework.

The internet’s full of car pricing information, so take advantage. At the very least, get competing price quotes online from a site like Edmunds.

Know the dealer’s playbook.

Many car dealerships are getting better about price transparency, but most still try to push pricey — often unnecessary — add-ons, and you may still run into a shady salesperson. Learn how to spot the most common car sales tricks and how to negotiate around them.

Negotiate your price via phone or e-mail.

Do your test driving first. Leave the dealership. Call back the next day and negotiate a price over the phone, or better yet, follow this trick the car dealers hate to secure a rock bottom price. The dealer will hate you, but you’ll get the best price possible.

Finance wisely.

Check auto loan rates online or with your local bank or credit union before applying for credit at the dealership.

Decide on a warranty before the dealer talks you into one.

In general, dealer extras like paint coating and VIN etching are totally not worth it. Save the cash for car washes and comprehensive insurance. Extended warranties, however, are a more complicated decision. The best extended warranties are sold by the manufacturer on new or certified pre-owned cars, and you have to watch out for totally worthless warranties sometimes sold on used cards. Proceed carefully.

Don’t forget insurance!

Auto insurance is important, but you don’t want to spend more than you have to.

Selling a car?

Cream-puff or clunker; you can get more for your old car on the private market when you follow this advice for selling your car. Don’t be lazy, sell it yourself. If you simply can’t stomach the task, be sure to take steps to maximize how much you get for your trade in.

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