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 reports on the best and worst new or used cars from sources such as Edmunds and Consumer Reports
  • 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 sometimes 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 another reputable car valuation source.
  • 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 (NNVTIS). A vehicle history report through NMVTIS can reveal officially reported repairs, title history and other information. If you are shopping at dealerships, ask them to run VIN (vehicle identification number) reports for you.
  • Some cars cost you more to insure. If you finance your car, you have to buy full collision insurance coverage, which can be expensive. Contact your insurance company in advance to learn the cost of covering the car(s) you're considering.
  • 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 require that you keep 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. Search online 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 general information for free; reports, ratings and recommendations often are accessible only to subscribers.
 

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