Do your homework before buying a vehicle

Buying a vehicle is a big financial decision.

Vehicles depreciate like crazy and cost you major dough every month through payments, repairs, maintenance, fuel, and insurance. So, if you don’t need one, don’t buy one. But many people do, so consider buying a used car versus new. The largest portion of depreciation occurs in the first year, so buy a vehicle that is more than a year old.

Before you shop, know what you want. Be clear about what needs the vehicle will fill: reliability, performance, safety, money-saving (economic), prestige (personal image), etc. Know your desired price range. Narrow down your list to just a few makes and models. You’re more likely to get what you want when you know what you want.

Determine the value of the car and be prepared to negotiate a price. Don’t get suckered into “snooze or lose” sales tactics. If the sales pressure is high, turn it down using your research and level-headed thinking. Check out these websites:





When buying used, it’s important to learn as much about the car as possible so you avoid buying a lemon. Ask to see maintenance and repair receipts. Take the car for a test drive and test everything from the brakes to the power windows. Check the vehicle’s vehicle identification number (VIN) and get a vehicle history report. The VIN number is visible under the windshield and also on the vehicle’s title. The report is about $30 to $50 and can be purchased through www.carfax.com or www.carproof.com. Pull a lien report at your local registry and pay for a professional inspection.

When buying, stay within your budget and remember that a car isn’t an asset, it’s a tool to get you from point A to B.

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