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Buying Cars For Beginners

Few purchases are as high-stakes as a car purchase, whether it’s a new model or one that has been gently used by at least one previous owner. Buyers who are new not only to car purchases, but also to used car purchases, have quite a few things to keep in mind. Whether it’s the car’s mileage, its maintenance and accident history, or even its status as a good deal or a bad sale, it’s important to get a full picture of the car’s operation, its true cost, and the value offered by the dealer at the time of the sale. Here’s what new buyers need to check and ensure before they drive off the lot with a new or used model.

1. Know the Car Before Buying the Car

Do research online and get to know a vehicle before buying it. That means not only researching its trim levels, features, and accessories, but also becoming familiar with its price as either a new or used vehicle. Check into the price of the vehicle in great, good, and poor condition. Look into the price of the vehicle at certain mileage marks. And ensure that the model desired is on a local dealer’s lot. This will allow a fair comparison of the dealer’s offer and the vehicle’s true value.

2. Know the Car’s True Cost

Car dealerships are in the business of not only selling cars, but also turning a profit. That’s why virtually every car on the lot is marked up significantly from its original cost, or the MSRP of the vehicle. This markup is designed to help the dealer earn a small profit on every sale, but it’s highly negotiable for the skilled and well-researched buyer. Find out exactly what the dealer paid for the vehicle and then determine the dealer’s markup. Negotiate with them on price to ensure that both sides are getting a fair deal on the eventual sale of the car, if the car has a desirable registration Platinum Plates will provide a free valuation.

3. Ask for a Vehicle History Report

One area that can really help negotiation on the car’s price, at least for used models, is the vehicle history report. Tied to the car’s VIN number, this report will spotlight a few things that can be red flags for buyers. This includes the vehicle’s use in a fleet setting or as a rental, as well as any accidents or major maintenance procedures that have been performed on the vehicle since its original sale. If the car has the maintenance record of a lemon, or was used as a fleet or rental vehicle, it might be worth negotiating a lower price or considered a different car on the lot.

4. Know the Value of a Trade-In Before Trading it In

Dealers can be tricky, and they’ve been known to lower a new car’s price while also lowering the trade-in value of an older vehicle below its fair market value. Don’t let this happen. Before trading a car in during a sale, be sure to use tools like Kelley Blue Book to determine the value of the car based on its age, features, condition, and mileage. If a fair trade-in value is not given during the sale, assert this knowledge and seek a better offer.

5. Keep Sale Fees and Dealer Services in Mind

The price of even a used car can be quite high in many cases, and most fees are based on a percentage of that sale price. Be sure to understand sales tax charges, registration and tag fees, and any other costs that might be levied by state or local governments. It’s a good idea to understand these fees even before setting foot in a dealership.

Also be sure to understand that many additional services, which the dealer will try hard to add to the cost of the vehicle at the time of sale, are unneeded. Don’t buy in to dealer-specific warranties and other optional packages that don’t add any real value. Instead, stick with the basics and with manufacturer programs for the best chance at great service, affordable costs, and long-lasting vehicle satisfaction.

Well-Researched Buyers Will Always Get the Best Deals

With plenty of research, buyers will know a fair price for their new vehicle, a competitive trade-in price on their old car, and the fees that will come into play when they pull the trigger on their next purchase. With plenty of research, a careful eye, and a fondness for negotiation, it’s easy to get a great car at a great price at virtually any dealer.

Full time blogger and SEO Specialist, Sebastian Webb also works for Proctor Subaru as a content contributor. Born and raised in NYC he learned a lot from his father and grandfather about cars, since they were both auto-mechanics. Here he wrote a little buying guide for used and for new cars. Hope it helps you get the best for your money’s worth.