Best Consumer Advice for Buying a New Car

Buyers can get better deals on new cars by securing a loan beforehand, selling an old auto privately instead of trading at the dealership, and shopping during end-of-year sales.

Best Consumer Advice for Buying a New Car
MorgueFile (alvimann)
Overview
Buying a new car is a major investment. For most people, a car is the second-most expensive possession after their home. The average cost for a new car is $28,000, and it depreciates in value the minute you drive it off the lot. So you want to make sure you're making a wise purchase.
Function
There are many reasons for purchasing a new car. Your old car may no longer fit your current lifestyle. Or you may currently be driving an old car, which could mean expensive repair bills or poor gas mileage.
Time Frame
One of the best times of year to shop is between July and October. During this time, dealers are extra-motivated to sell the cars on their lot to make room for next year's models. The other best time of year is the end of December, when buyer interest is low and dealers are scrambling to meet year-end quotas.
Considerations
Consider securing a new car loan from a credit union ahead of time, rather than relying on the dealership for financing. And always be prepared to walk away if you're not happy with the price. Often, dealers will make a more attractive offer to prevent you from leaving.
Benefits
New cars have a number of benefits over used cars. Since you're the first owner, you know the vehicle's entire history. Also, most new cars come with a full warranty.
Warning
Get a copy of your credit report and score prior to visiting a new car dealer. Agree to the shortest car loan term you can manage in order to save money in interest. A large down payment will also help offset the total cost of the car.
Misconceptions
Don't think that trading in your old car is a good substitute for a down payment. Selling your car privately will almost always get you a better price than trading it in at the dealership.
Resources
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Car Buying Tips
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10 Steps to Buying a New Car
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New Cars Have Benefits Over Used Cars