Tips for Buying a Car
Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors | Last reviewed June 20, 2016
Whether you are buying or leasing a vehicle, it pays to do your research and review all of the relevant information before signing on the dotted line. If you buy a car, it likely will be one of the (if not the) largest expenses of your life. If you lease, you will need to be aware of restrictions and other contractual terms.
The following tips for buying a car will help you get the best deal and avoid problems.
- Decide what kind of vehicle best suits your needs and budget.
- Consider fuel economy. A vehicle that gets more miles per gallon is good for your wallet as well as for the environment. These government web pages will help you comparison shop.
- Use the Green Vehicle Guide to find the vehicles that are most fuel-efficient and have the cleanest-running engines.
- Go to www.fueleconomy.gov to compare the miles-per-gallon ratings of different vehicle models manufactured since the mid-1980s.
- Go to www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/savemoney.shtml for annual fuel estimates.
- Check out the seller. For car dealers, check with your state or local consumer protection agency and Better Business Bureau. If you are buying from an individual, check the title to make sure you're dealing with the vehicle owner. Also browse the classifieds for other auto ads with the same phone number -- a sign of an unlicensed broker who sells used cars by posing as the owner.
- Take a test drive. Drive at different speeds and check for smooth right and left turns. On a straight stretch, make sure the vehicle doesn't pull to one side.
- Handle trade-ins and financing separately from your purchase to get the best deal on each. Get a written price quote before you talk about a trade-in or dealer financing.
- Shop in advance for the best finance deal at your credit union, bank or finance company. Look at the total finance charges and the Annual Percentage Rate (APR), not just the monthly payment.
- Read and understand every document you are asked to sign.
- Don't take possession of the car until all paperwork is final.
See FindLaw's Buying a Car section if you need additional tips for buying a car.
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