AskPatty Certified Female Friendly Logo

FAQ - Car Buying

Published Aug 9th 2006, 10:47pm by Jody DeVere in
Q: What kind of research should I be doing before going to a dealership to buy a new car?
A: Try going to some of the online sites to do your research like, Kelly Blue Book and

What to do BEFORE you visit a dealership showroom

1. Decide what type of vehicle will best meet your needs.

2. Determine your monthly budget.

Remember that every $1,000 you finance represents $20-$25 in monthly payments on a 60 month loan
Keep in mind that additional costs exist and plan for them - costs such as sales tax, title or registration fees, and possible changes in monthly insurance payments
3. Make a list of "wants and needs" - divide your list into features that you can't live without vs. features that you'd like only if your budget permits.

4. Gather information on various models.

Talk to friends, family, co-workers and insurance agents
Read car brochures, automotive magazines and automotive sections of local newspapers
Visit your local library to research the information you will need or search the internet

5. Compare which vehicles offer the features you need as standard equipment or as an option. Research safety features such as air bags and anti-lock brakes, as well as comfort and convenience options. Then evaluate your wants and needs versus your budget.

6. Research opportunities such as cash rebates and special promotions by calling dealerships, manufacturers or reading automotive sections of local newspapers. A list of rebates from every manufacturer is available through Automotive News, a publication also found at your local library.

7. Approximate the wholesale/retail value of your "used" car.

8. Acquaint yourself with the prevailing interest rate on a car loan from your local bank or credit union (if you have access to one).

11 Things you should NEVER do at a dealership

1. Don't come unprepared - bring along your "homework" and anything that could be needed such as your driver's license, title or loan payment information if you are trading and pay stubs or tax returns for credit applications.

2. Don't come unless you have enough time - put aside several hours. Make sure you have some daylight to check the car for scrapes or "dings" and to ensure personal safety.

3. Don't bring small children or anyone not involved in the vehicle purchase - children have a short attention span and friends could influence your decision.

4. Don't tell the salesperson what you would like your monthly payment to be - let him/her offer the monthly payment once you've been educated on the vehicle you are considering.

5. Don't sign a contract without considering the final price of the car and ensuring that you completely understand the transaction

6. Don't buy a car until you've taken it for a test drive - drive the car like it's your own, you need to be comfortable with the way it drives, feels and looks. Insist you drive it on city streets and on the highway.

7. Don't deviate from your agenda - you did your homework and you know what you want to stay in control.

8. Don't come with your guard up - and assume the dealer wants to take advantage of you. If you've done your homework, know the car you want, and what you're prepared to pay, then you needn't worry.

9. Don't settle for a salesperson you are uncomfortable with - ask to see the sales manager, explain you're having communication difficulties and request a new salesperson or leave the dealership.

10. Don't be alarmed if the dealer tells you to take the car off the lot that day - since the dealership pays overhead on each of its vehicles, they want it taken off the lot promptly.

11. Don't assume you can't do it on your own - if you do your homework:

Q:How do I know I'm getting the absolute best price on a lease?
A: Make sure the selling price quoted is the same as the cap cost quoted by the dealer on your lease agreement. Cap cost disclosure is required by law. Using a cap cost in a lease that's higher than the negotiated (or quoted) selling price is a trick some dealer will use because some consumers don't know what cap cost represents. ( The cap cost the "selling price" of a vehicle that's used to calculate lease payments and it's supposed to be the same as the price that was negotiated, quoted, or advertised by the dealer.) Second, if a higher cap cost is noticed, the salesperson might say that that figure has no effect on their monthly payment; they're not buying the vehicle, the leasing company is; and the cap cost is set by the leasing company so it's not negotiable. Third, a higher cap cost is sometimes explained away by saying that it includes finance charges. Do not be deceived the cap cost and selling price should be identical.

Q:What is the best time of year to buy & what model year?
A: You should be able to get a great deal at any time of the year. What you should do is find out what manufacturers rebates are being offered and look for special sales events at dealerships in your area.

Need Car Advice?

Ask The Experts!

Looking for a New or Used Car?

Search for our Certified Female Friendly® Car Buying Marketplace locations

Help Our Charities