10 Do's & Don'ts to Remember When Buying a Car

Unless you want to pay more than you should, you need to learn how to haggle for your automobile. Here are some tips.

DON'T wait to shop until your current car is on its last legs. Being in need puts you in a bad bargaining position.
DO have your research, including models, options, and prices, firmly in your head or at your fingertips.
DON'T worry about bargaining too hard and offending the dealer. Salespeople are there to make money. They take care of themselves.
DO be discreet. If you really want a particular car, continue to bargain as if you were undecided between two or three.
DON'T do the salesperson's work. During bargaining, you may be asked to name a reasonable profit. Don't; that's not your job! Focus on getting the best car for the lowest price.
DO be willing to walk away. Trust your gut instinct if the deal isn't good enough, if some details don't feel right, or if you don't feel good about the dealer.
DON'T glide over details. Most contracts include a fee for paperwork or advertising. If you've agreed on a good price, ask the dealer to waive them. If the answer is no, suggest that the dealer provide free servicing or extras (floor mats, for example) to offset the fees.
DO express negative feelings. If you do, you may see a radical change in the dealer's attitude, resulting in a better deal.
DON'T pay any mind when the salesperson asks, "What would you like your monthly payment to be?" It's an old trick. Paying $219 a month is no deal if the payments stretch out for an extra 24 months.
DO keep your trade-in out of the negotiation until the end. Clever salespeople give you a huge bargain on the new car, then fleece you on the trade-in. Get a firm price on the new car first, then the best price for your old one (you'll always do better selling it privately).

[via rd]

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