Help Desk FAQ

Automobiles

 

What should I consider when buying a car?

  • Buying a late model used car will give you the best value. New cars lose much of their value in the first months or year of ownership. Many new car dealers have late model trade ins or former leased cars for sale.
  • Before you start shopping, check out Consumer Reports "Best and Worst Used Cars" reports. You can find current and past issues of the magazine at most public libraries.
  • Consider a "manufacturer certified" used car even though they are usually more expensive. They come with a guarantee that they have been thoroughly inspected and often have warranties. A warranty is an agreement to cover repairs and regular maintenance for a certain time.
  • Look for a make and model that will retain its value over time. Check specific models online at Kelley Blue Book or in Consumer Reports magazine at the library.
  • If you are going to buy a car from a private owner, have it checked by an independent mechanic. If the seller won't let you have the car checked, keep shopping. Automobile clubs, such as AAA, offer inspections.
  • Check the vehicle identification number (VIN) before you buy the car at National Motor Vehicle Title Information System. A vehicle history report through the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System can reveal officially-reported repairs, title history, and other information. If you are shopping at dealerships, ask them to run VIN reports for you.
  • Some cars cost you more to insure. If you finance your car, you have to buy expensive collision insurance coverage. Contact your insurance company in advance to learn the cost of covering the car you want.
  • Buy instead of lease. Leasing costs you more in the long run, because at the end of the lease you don't own the car. Car leases come with strict rules about how many miles you can drive and keeping the car in excellent condition.
  • New car rebates can save you money. Rebates are advertised price reductions offered during slow sales periods or on overstocked models.
  • Dealers may offer "incentives" that are not advertised to the public. Dealer incentives are passed on to the dealer by manufacturers. Check auto magazines and web sites for information on incentive programs.

Help on the web

  • Edmunds.com: Practically all you ever wanted to know about cars and car buying.
  • Kelley Blue Book: Lots of information on buying new or used cars, as well as the "blue book" value for used cars.
  • Consumer Reports: Car comparisons and repair history. You can access the site for $6.95 per month or $30 per year.
 

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