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Buying A Vehicle

motor vehicles

Buying a new or used vehicle is a big decision. If you are in market, DOJ's guide to buying a car offers advice for each step in a sometimes lengthy process. It is divided into three sections:

Before You Go To The Dealer

Know the fair purchase price of the car you want. Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book are good resources to compare different cars and make an informed decision about which car (or cars) best suite you and how much you should expect to pay for them. The salesman will likely negotiate based on the sticker price, which may be higher than the fair purchase price.

Do the math. Before going to a dealer, calculate the total maximum price you can afford or want to spend for a vehicle, and then figure out what monthly payments fit that budget. People who go to dealers without such knowledge and negotiate based solely on what they can pay per month usually end up paying more over the life of the loan.

Research your financing options. Often the best rate on a new car is offered by the dealership when the manufacturer is offering special rates. If you are not looking to purchase a new car during a sales event or are looking to purchase a used car, check with your bank or credit union to determine the best rate available to you. Compare those rates to those offered when you visit the dealer. You may be able to pre-qualify with a bank or credit union to lock in a rate before you go to the dealer.

Know your score. Check your credit score before you go to a dealer to make sure you are aware of any shortcomings you may have. You can request your credit report for free once a year by visiting, however you have to pay to see your credit score. Knowing your credit score will help you determine if you may be able to qualify for better financing. Learn more about building your credit score.

Choose a dealer that you can trust. Be Informed is an online tool for consumer to search DOJ’s database of consumer complaints to see if other people have contacted our consumer hotline with concerns about a business before they do business with them. Many customers also share their experiences with local businesses, both good and bad, by posting consumer reviews online.

Go to Negotiating The Deal
Go to Closing The Deal

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