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What are the basic and most important questions to ask a car dealer? I have not bought a car in 9 years, and as always its such a long process, I wish there was a way to make sure it did not take 3 hours to buy a car...

Answers from the Automotive Experts

Jenny Trostel, Partner at Anderson of Hunt Valley Purchasing a car is an important decision and should take a little time to complete the process. You want to make sure the car is right for you. You must drive it long enough to make sure it is comfortable and is the right size for your needs. I had a customer recently trade a vehicle in that was so uncomfortable, she was experiencing back problems. She lost a lot of money because she did not spend enough time driving the car. You want to make sure you are getting a good deal. If you plan to finance the vehicle, know your credit score. This will help you get a good rate on the loan. Banks are tougher with their requirements and they can slow down the loan process during the transaction. Ask questions about the warranty and about extended warranties. Ask about GAP insurance. If the car is used, ask to see the Carfax report. The process can take a long time, but if you are planning to keep the vehicle as long as you did the last one, you need to take the time to get a great car. Good Luck!

Hi Lupe: The biggest difference between 9 years ago and now is the internet. You can do so much of your research on line that you really need to visit the dealership to take a test drive to ensure that what you*re reading is true. There are no "secrets" as to what is good deal anymore. First check the manufacturers website to configure the vehicle to your liking and then visit sites like edmunds and carsdirect to get a good idea of what people in the market are paying for these vehicles. You can also look at Ask Patty*s car blogger to see what other women think of the vehicle*s they*re driving. It*s a great source of reviews as well. The BEST piece of advice I can give you is to choose a REPUTABLE dealership! Make sure that you feel comfortable where you buy from, as this is the place that you should return to for your service needs. You can check out websites like dearerrater and edmunds to see how a dealership that you might be considering rates. Hope this helps!

Breanne Boyle, Contributing Editor at AskPatty.com Lupe, I think the most important thing is to take your time. You want to make sure you have a chance to experience the car to make sure it*s right for you. So ask the dealer to let you have some time sitting in and exploring the car and its features. Ask the dealer to leave you alone for a bit so you can sit in the car, adjust seats and steering wheel and mirrors, check out the size of it and visibility, etc. Then make sure to ask about the safety and crash test ratings. You can find all these things at www.nhtsa.com as well so you can be prepared. Ask about all the financing options and the resale values. Ask to see any customer recommendations or endorsements. If they have them, they should show them to you. The main thing to remember is that you are the CUSTOMER. Take your time and ask every question you think of. None are dumb. If they respect you and want your business, they will take the time to answer them all. Also go to www.askpatty.com and look for Female Friendly Certified Dealer so you can have the best buying experience possible! Good Luck!

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