You can control the car buying process

Car Buying Blues

by Kathryn J. Bain

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Have you ever walked off a car lot feeling like you've just been put through a torture chamber? If you're a woman, the salesman probably spoke specifically to the man you were with, making you feel invisible. They'll talk engine talk with the man. Women get to see the vanity mirror. With the way you're treated, you'd think you had two heads.

I'm here to tell you how to take advantage of their attitude and come out with a good deal. Being prepared when car buying is the best way to feel like you took them, instead of them taking you.

  1. First, prepare a monthly budget. Figure out what the most is you can afford as a car payment.

  2. Contact your bank or credit union and tell them what the highest monthly payment is you can afford. They'll give you a figure as to the value of car you can purchase.

  3. Go on websites and see what cars are for sale at local car dealers. Pick two or three from each lot.

  4. Go to,, and Look up the vehicles that you're interested in, and get the value for each. Last, go to . In the upper left corner, click cars and look for the value there.

  5. Pick which car you're most interested in. Go to that car lot first. Make sure you have all your information handy.

  6. Let the salesmen know what you can afford. Tell him not to waste your time by showing you something more expensive. If you can afford the payments on a $15,000 vehicle, tell them you're looking for a car in the $12,000 range. This keeps your options open.

  7. After you decide on a vehicle, they'll take you into the office to run the figures. You need to look the salesman in the eye and give him the price you're willing to pay. If the book value on the vehicle is $12,000, tell the salesman you'll give him $9,000. These salesmen are trained to try to get you to buy. If they can't do it, they'll get what is called a "closer." This is the person who is supposed to "close" the deal. No matter how tough a sale he gives you, don't budge on your budget. If they want to sell the car bad enough, they'll get it down to $11,000.

  8. At this point, agree to $11,000 "out the door." Out the door is very important. That means with no added costs, including tax, tag, and title. That's $11,000 period. A lot of times when you say this, the salesman's jaw will hit the floor. It's a wonderful sight!

  9. Once all figures are taken care of, tell them you will now take the car to your mechanic to have it looked at. No matter how much they argue or try to tell you they've had it inspected, take it to your mechanic. I went to a car lot once that did a 42-point inspection. I still insisted on taking it to my guy. It turned out their mechanics didn't know what a leaky oil gasket was. Good thing my mechanic did.

  10. The most important thing is to be willing to walk away. Your goal is to get a car for less than that monthly payment you've established. If you get too hooked on the car, you'll make a mistake that can cost you hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

It'll take some time and effort, but if you follow these ten steps above, you'll come away from the car buying process feeling like you didn't get taken advantage of as you drive off the lot in your new vehicle.

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  • From smart ways to buy a used car to financing tips to help with choosing a car, our Automobile section is sure to answer many of your automotive questions.

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