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Don't go sour with a lemon! 8 car-buying tips

 / Updated  / Source: TODAY

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Want the inside scoop on how to negotiate the best deals? In Weekend TODAY’s “Secrets of the Trades” series, former car salesman Robert Evans shares the down and dirty secrets to help folks get the best offer and possibly save them, hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on their new car purchase:

1. FinancingIt's always good to be pre-approved by your bank or credit union, it helps you negotiate a better rate when you get to the dealership. If you qualify, the dealer can sometimes offer a better rate than your bank or credit union.

2. LeasingLeasing can also be an attractive option by getting more vehicle (equipment) for a smaller payment than financing and less out of pocket cash. But beware of the restrictions with leasing, i.e. mileage constraints, wear & tear costs, higher insurance rates and many have a disposition fee at the termination of the lease from $250 to $400.

3. Know your fico score (credit)
You should know your score before you arrive — it will make a significant difference in your interest rate because most dealers work on a tier system with 1 being the highest and 4 being the lowest.  Tier 1 & 2 will qualify you for any special financing such as the low interest rates that are used in advertisements to draw you in the showroom.

4. Look to buy your car on the last three days of the monthDealers need to make their quotas for the month, which has them pay less on floor plan dollars and allocates more vehicles to the dealer (the more vehicles sold, the more the dealer gets in return from the manufacturer). Dealers must sell their oldest inventory to avoid paying interest on the new cars they have in their inventory. Ask how long the car you’re buying has been in their inventory, you may even get a better deal if it has been in their inventory over 90 days.

5. Know what you wantNarrow your choices to a particular make and model. Don't buy options you don’t need, such as a 4X4 when you drive mostly in the city and your vehicle is never used in off road or in extremely bad road conditions.

6. NegotiateAlways negotiate. Before you arrive at the dealership, know the incentive programs available for the vehicle you’re interested in (if any are available) — even with less than desirable credit you should still negotiate the price.

7. Make a fair tradeIf you have a trade-in, negotiate it upfront as this will give you an indication if the dealer is being honest about its value.  Know the value of your trade by determining the condition.  The dealer will always grade your trade as good or fair — buyer beware of this trick if your trade is in pristine condition. Don’t allow the dealer to steal your vehicle, only make the deal when the number is what your looking for (be realistic).  Ask for the ACV (actual cash value).

8. Read the fine print on your warrantyIt may NOT cover you bumper to bumper.  They are usually a limited bumper to bumper and in some cases non- transferable.

If you follow these car buying tips the sales manager will always take your deal and you’ll leave with a new vehicle.

For more car-buying tips and information, visit and

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