How to Buy a New Car & Not Get Screwed

You can get a good car deal by researching the car at home first.
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A car dealer can spot that deer in headlights look a mile away. To the car dealer, that look means an unprepared and often gullible customer has just entered his playground. Don’t let the dealer screw you by selling you an inappropriate car at a too-high price. Don’t be lured into buying that shiny new convertible, either. Prepare yourself before entering the dealership.

Step 1

Decide what kind of car you need to buy. The key word being need, as opposed to want. Think about what you are going to use your car for. If you commute a long distance to work, for example, you should get a car that gets good gas mileage. You may need a car that has a lot of cargo capacity, or you may need a car that can fit into a small parking garage.

Step 2

Establish a budget to determine how much you can afford. You must consider the monthly payment, the down payment, the interest rate, the length of the loan, maintenance costs and gas.

Step 3

Use the Internet to determine the car you want. You should only use the dealership to test drive the car and sign the contract, according to

Step 4

Use a tool such as the True Market Value calculator on This lets you know the average price buyers are paying as opposed to the sticker price on the car that the dealer wants you to accept.

Step 5

Contact lenders to be pre-approved for a loan. You may not get the best deal by using dealer financing.

Step 6

Keep your poker face on. If the car dealer has the exact, dream car you had in mind, do not tell him. Otherwise, you will lose your edge in negotiating.

Step 7

Leave the dealership after you test-drive the car and before making any promises to the dealer. You want to test drive other cars, even if you are sure you found the car you want at the first place.

Step 8

Call the dealer that has the car you want and ask her to fax or email you an invoice that lists all the costs. That way, you can review the deal at your leisure at home. If you see something that you don’t understand, you can ask for an explanation or to have that item removed before making your final decision.

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