Insider Car Buying Tips & Secrets
In today’s consumer landscape, it’s hard to know what to believe and what not to believe from car dealership advertising. Here are a few points for ensuring that a dealership ad is legitimate:
- If you see the phrase “x amount of dollars off,” make sure it says “off of MSRP.” If it doesn’t specify, then most likely there is an additional mark-up for the car that negates the discount.
- Read the fine print and make sure that the advertised deal doesn’t include rebates that most consumers wouldn’t qualify for and might not be able to be combined.
- If the ad says money down then be aware that potentially thousands of dollars in inception fees can still be added to the deal when you get to the dealer. Look for the term “due at signing” to really know how much you will be responsible for if you wish to get an advertised deal.
Vehicle gap insurance is one of those products that seems like a waste of money until you need it. In fact, unless you have ever experienced a total loss in a vehicle accident you may be unaware of the value this type of policy can have for a consumer. Most auto insurance policies are designed to only cover the vehicle’s current cash value, not the loan balance, when a total vehicle loss occurs. Many times the difference can be thousands of dollars.
According to Edmunds.com, the average vehicle loses thirty percent of its value in the first year. Let’s look at how this plays out in the numbers. If you buy a twenty five thousand dollar vehicle and a total loss happens in the first year the insurance company is likely to only cover eighteen thousand dollars of the loss. Depending on your down payment or trade equity, that could put you on the hook for the up to seven thousand dollar difference. So if you have a small down payment or a loan with an extended term then auto gap insurance may be for you.
Tire and Wheel Coverage
Tires and wheels are among the most important replacement parts for vehicles. They can also be one of the most expensive. When you purchase a new or used car, the dealer may offer you a tire and wheel protection policy. Here is some advice for those considering one of these policies:
- Make sure the policy covers any damage to your tires or wheels as a result of metal, nails, glass, debris, potholes, and blowouts.
- If possible, get a policy that covers you for the term that you have financed or leased; most policies will go for up to five years.
- Make sure the damage to the tires will be covered by a replacement as opposed to a plug or patch.
- Always make sure that the policy is transferable if you choose to sell your car.
As a general rule of thumb, higher priced vehicles will have higher costs for replacement or repair, so tire and wheel coverage becomes more of a financial consideration.
Vehicle History Report
When buying a used car from a private party or a dealer it is important that you know the history of that vehicle. Make sure you always ask for a detailed vehicle history report from the seller. Two common and reputable vehicle history reports are CARFAX and Auto Check. Once you get the vehicle history report, there are a number of important things to look for:
- Check if the vehicle has a branded title. This means that an insurance company has declared the vehicle a total loss because of an accident, flood, or other catastrophic event. Stay away from vehicles with branded titles.
- Look how many previous owners have had the car. It is usually best to have as few previous owners as possible.
- Check other available details such as accident information, recall and repair history, and verification of recent mileage.
Knowing all of this information will not only give you peace of mind, but it will also help you negotiate the best possible deal.
Summer Road Trip
The summer months are a great time for a family road trip. Before heading out on the road, be sure to consider these tips for a safe ride:
- Check your tires.
The manufacturer recommended tire pressure is usually listed in the owner’s manual, in the door jamb, or on a decal in the glove box.
- Check your air conditioner
- Check your DVD player and remote batteries if your car has an entertainment system.
- Ensure all car seats and boosters are installed properly.
Go to your local fire station to inspect this for free.
- Plan stops at fun locations along the way.
Amusement parks and scenic outdoor picnics are always good options to consider. Do some internet research for attractions within driving distance.
Remember these tips and don’t forget to buckle up and drive safely.