cWhere to Buy a Car

Where to Buy a Car

Once considered rock bottom on consumer lists that rank trustworthiness, car salespeople have climbed above others in surveys today. A recent report shows that 82 percent of used-car salespeople value honesty as an important factor in achieving success, whereas stockbrokers rated honesty 30 percent lower than that.

Car salespeople have a twofold job: selling you a car and selling you a car you want. Seek out a car dealer who errs on the latter side. Shop for a dealer as diligently as you are shopping for your car. We have provided and easy way to help you Click Here.

Price isn't the only consideration in selecting a dealer, however. The service you'll receive after you buy the car is critically important, too.

Ask to speak to the service manager before you buy a car. Find out when the service department is open, especially if weekends and weeknights are the best times for you to bring in the car. Also ask about the availability and condition of "loaners." Some dealers loan cars when repairs take a day or more to complete. Others will rent you a car or provide you with transportation.

Proximity is another important consideration. Having your dealership close to home saves time and gas money when servicing the car.

Ask friends to recommend dealers or seek out customers' opinions. Also, look for customer service awards proudly displayed on the walls of the dealership. Manufacturers survey the dealers' customers about the service they received and recognize top-flight dealerships. You can also call the Better Business Bureau for more information about a dealer.


It's Gotta Be New

New cars are sold through dealers but what kind of dealers? There are several types, each with its own personality and numerous sales techniques. Get to know the types, then decide which particular seller you're most comfortable with.

The Traditional Dealer
Traditional new-car dealers typically will be willing to haggle over the price of a car. They can be intimidating or extremely affable, but much of your perception of them probably will depend upon how comfortable you are with negotiations.

Many no-haggling dealerships cropped up in the 1990s to serve customers who prefer not to barter over price. But no-hagglers aren't new. The idea of selling cars at one and only one price was first presented by dealers who sold cars that were so sought after the dealers felt they shouldn't have to negotiate. If a buyer didn't like the price, the dealer could always find someone else who did.

The no-hagglers of the '90s are a little different, however. The one-price strategy still works best for dealers selling high-demand vehicles. But today's greater demand for customer service has added a new dimension to car sales. Customers want good service, plus the option not to haggle, while still getting a good price.

No-hagglers may offer a standard discount below the sticker price and hold the price steady for all customers. The set price allows the dealership to make a decent profit, yet it reassures the customer that he or she isn't being taken for a ride. This allows a friendly relationship between the customer and the salesperson.

One no-haggling salesperson, who called himself a "service technician," said, "I steer you into the correct vehicle. I'm not just trying to sell you anything. I want you to find the 'right seat.'"

Be aware that no-hagglers may negotiate loans and may push extended warranties, rustproofing, credit life insurance, service contracts and other back-end extras, as discussed in the next chapter.

Auto Brokers
If you want to shop price without doing the work yourself use our certified guide. Auto brokers in some states are illegal and may end up the legal nightmare of your life.

Selecting Used-Car Sellers

More than half of the people who buy used cars buy them from private individuals and half of those individuals are friends or family members. Other used cars are usually found through ads in the classified section of the newspaper, on bulletin boards, or you may see a used car with a home-made sign in the window.



Watch out for pros posing as private car sellers. These curbstoners run classified ads, just like private sellers, but often ask to meet at a parking lot so you won't know where they live. They take advantage of buyers by overcharging for cars, often by rolling back odometers to increase the car's apparent value or by selling previously wrecked and rebuilt cars. Call the past owners who appear on the title to double-check the mileage. And be wary if a seller's phone number appears more than once in the classifieds. That's the sign of a pro.

Dealers, used-car lots, rental car agencies, auto brokers and auctions all sell used cars, too. There are major pros and cons to buying from each.

Private Sales
Pros: If you know the seller, chances are good you'll be able to get honest answers about how the car was driven and kept up. The owner will usually sell the car for less than its retail value because he or she has no overhead and only small advertising fees.

Cons: If you don't know the seller, you might not get honest answers about how the car was driven and maintained. Ask for repair receipts. And be sure to check that the seller is indeed the owner. If not, the seller could be what's called a "curbstoner" a used-car sales pro who pretends to be a private seller and more likely than not specializes in fleecing his or her customers. You can run into title and licensing problems when you buy from anyone other than the owner. If you suspect the private seller is a salesperson posing as the car's owner, ask to see the title of the car. If the name on the title is different from the seller's, walk away.


Phone Inquiries 

Ask private sellers the following questions over the phone to save you unnecessary trips to look at cars. Honest sellers will tell the truth about these, however, a curbstoner will lie about them, so be wary. 

1. What condition is the car in? 

2. Why are you selling it? 

3. Are you the original owner? 

4. How long have you owned the car? 

5. Have you maintained the car according to the manufacturer's schedule in the owner's manual? How often has the oil been changed? 

6. Do you have repair receipts I can look at? Where did you usually take the car for service? 

7. Where did you buy the car? 

8. Do you sell many cars? 

9. Where did you generally drive the car in the city, on long trips? 

10. What is the mileage? 

11. Has the car ever been painted? If so, why? 

12. Has the car ever been recalled? If so, may I see verification that the problem was corrected? 

13. Would you object if I took the car to my mechanic for inspection? 

14. Is there anything I'd need to do to put the car in tip-top condition? 

15. Are there any liens on the car? (If so, the owner still owes money on the car and you could get stuck paying what's owed if you buy the car.)

New-Car Dealers
Pros: They usually have a wide selection of higher-priced used-car models because they only keep the best cars. The others go to auctions or used-car lots. Because they have service facilities, they're more likely to have made repairs on the car than have other types of sellers.

Cons: Used cars from new-car dealerships may be more expensive.


Questions to Ask a Dealer About a Used Car 

1. Where did you get the car? 

2. What condition is the car in? 

3. Does it have any major defects? 

4. Has the car ever been in an accident? 

5. Has the car ever been painted? 

6. What is the mileage? What steps have you taken to confirm the accuracy of the odometer reading? 

7. Has the car ever been recalled? If so, may I see verification that the problem was corrected? 

8. Has the car ever been bought back by the manufacturer as a lemon? 

9. What repairs did you have done to it? 

10. Would you object if I took the car to my mechanic for inspection?

Used-Car Lots
Pros: Besides offering a broad selection, used car lots often offer a number of less expensive, older model vehicles.

Cons: Used-car dealers often buy the castoff cars from new dealers. They also buy from auctions or purchase used cars from lease fleets, taxi companies or police departments.

Used-car lots often don't have a service department to repair cars; instead, these operations tend to sell cars "as is."

The dealer may also offer to sell you a service contract to cover the cost of repairs. This serves as insurance against having to pay through the nose for repairs. But read any service contract carefully so you know the deductible amount and exactly which repairs are covered.

Rental Car Agencies
Pros: Some people believe rental cars are a good deal because they're usually rented by business people for short trips to the airport or meetings, as well as for vacationers' longer, but less wearing road trips. Rental cars usually are serviced regularly, with records of their maintenance history.

Cons: You don't have any way of knowing who has driven the car before you buy it. You don't know if the car was abused by one or more of the drivers who previously rented it. That's why the Texas Automobile Dealers Association members have adopted a standard to disclose when cars for sale are previous rentals. That way, you can make up your own mind about whether you want to purchase a previous rental vehicle. Rental cars may also cost slightly more than cars purchased from private sellers.

Pros: You can get a good deal if you really know cars and are an avid fixer-upper. Cons: Mostly professionals bid at auctions, so auctions can be intimidating for the average car buyer. Some auctions won't admit private parties.
Next Chapter: "Negotiate from the Driver's Seat"

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