Are you looking to start the new year behind a new set of wheels? January is always an ideal time for car buying, with many discounts, incentives, and end of year leftovers available at discount prices. But before you sign on the dotted line, there are certain rules of thumb to make sure you are not taken for a ride.
First, KNOW YOUR NEEDS. If you are a soccer mom carpooling tons of teens to and from games, a sports car is not your speed. If you’re living in the city and parking is hard to come by, you may shy away from that behemoth SUV. Figure out what is most important to you–space, miles per gallon, speed, comfort–and use this wish list to find the best car for you and your lifestyle.
Second, RESEARCH RESEARCH RESEARCH. The internet provides so much useful information. We always recommend the NHTSA recall and complaint database, where you can enter your year, make, and model and instantly have complaints and recalls for the vehicle at your fingertips. Also, check out Consumer Reports and our annual Car Complaint Index, which highlights cars that receive the most complaints per sales. If you are buying a used car, be sure to take along our lemon dodger worksheet so you can ask the car dealer all the pertinent questions needed to protect yourself.
Third, KNOW THE MSRP. The MSRP stands for Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price. It’s basically the inflated sticker price you see on the window of a vehicle. Unless your car is in high demand, you should never pay full price. If the dealer is not willing to discount from the MSRP, be prepared to walk away. There’s always another dealer who will be happy to take your money.
Fourth, TRY IT BEFORE YOU BUY IT. This is extremely important. Before you sign on the dotted line, take the car out for a long test drive, open it up, and make sure you try everything out on the vehicle…the AC, heater, sunroof, horn, heated seats, bluetooth, radio….make sure you understand how everything works. And if something is not working as designed, demand that it is fixed BEFORE you sign your contract. This is your one chance to demand perfection. Take advantage of it.
Fifth, WHAT’S THE WARRANTY? Make sure you understand the terms of your warranty. How long are you covered? How many miles are you covered? What are you covered for? Are there extended manufacturer warranty options available for a less expensive rate at time of purchase? You need to know your protection. And make sure that you are getting a manufacturers warranty…..that is extremely important. You do not want a dealership or aftermarket warranty.
Sixth, KNOW YOUR RIGHTS. If something does go wrong, there are State and Federal Laws designed to protect you. The Federal Magnuson Moss Warranty Act and State Lemon Laws offer completely cost-free legal representation and can lead to repurchases, replacements, or significant refunds. Keep track of your invoices and don’t be afraid to fight for your rights if you need to.
We hope you and your new vehicle enjoy a wonderful relationship not just now, but down the road as well.