Saving money when buying a new car
With 2013 model cars arriving in showrooms across the country, now might be a good time to buy a new car and save, said Laura Connerly, assistant professor with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
"New cars are introduced in late summer, early fall of the previous year and dealers are often trying to clear out 2012 models," she said. "If you've been in the market for a new car, now may be a good time to buy a new 2012 car."
However, there's more to making a purchase than just finding an outgoing model. Connerly said a smart buyer does some homework before making a purchase. She offers five tips to save on a new car purchase:
1. Know what you want. Think about the type of vehicle that best suits your needs. Do some advance research. "The "Consumer Reports" car buying guide is a great resource available for purchase or at most libraries," she said. "Vehicles are ranked for reliability, safety, owner satisfaction, and other factors."
Potential buyers can also look online to find information about cars. "Decide on not only the make and model but also what additional features are important to you," Connerly said. "Then you're ready to test drive and make your final decision."
2. Compare and negotiate prices. "Have a price in mind before you negotiate," she said. "Car pricing websites can give you an estimate of the dealer's cost for the vehicle. Don't discuss trade-ins or financing at this point. Negotiate for the price of the vehicle, not the monthly payment.
"You can call around to several dealerships to obtain bids," Connerly said. "It's OK to re-contact a dealer and give them an opportunity to make a more competitive offer. If when you arrive at the dealer and for any reason they don't honor the offer they made on the phone, walk away."
3. Beware of "extras." "Fabric protection, paint sealant, extended warranties--can bring the price of the car back up to where it was before you started negotiations," she said. "Carefully consider whether the extra is worth it to you."
According to a "Consumer Reports" survey, car owners spent considerably more on an extended warranty than they would have spent on repairs alone, Connerly said. "Check your paperwork to make sure the salesperson has not automatically added any extras."
4. Compare financing options. If you plan to finance the car, comparison shop for the best interest rate. "This might be a good time to check your credit score," she said. "The higher your score, the more likely you are to obtain a good interest rate."
Compare at least three lenders for the best rates, Connerly said, adding: "You can also cut financing charges by paying in cash if you have it or by making as large of a down payment as you can afford."
5. Consider insurance. Check on the rate to insure the vehicle before you sign the purchase agreement. "You will probably pay more to insure a sports car than you would to insure small sedan--especially if you have teen or young adult drivers," Connerly said.
For more information about managing finances, contact your county agent, or visit www.uaex.edu to find a full range of useful information aimed at saving you money: http://www.arfamilies.org/money.htm.