Servicemembers, arm yourself with basic car buying skills—Should you buy a new or used car?
- Test drive the car under varied road conditions—on hills, highways, and in stop-and-go traffic.
- Go online and research Certified Preowned Cars (CPO). These cars are low mileage trade-ins and lease returns that are reconditioned to the specifications of a new vehicle. Also, after these CPO vehicles are restored, the manufacturers may extend their original warranty. This can save you money from buying an extended service contract.
- Ask for the car's maintenance record from the owner, dealer, or repair shop.
- Determine the value of the vehicle before you negotiate the purchase. Check the National Automobile Dealers Association's (NADA) guides, Edmunds, Kelley Blue Book, and Consumer Reports. Some of these organizations charge for this information.
- Research the upkeep costs for models you’re interested in, including the frequency of repairs and maintenance costs.
- Check whether there are any unrepaired recalls on the vehicle. Start by asking the dealer if the vehicle you’re considering has a recall. You also can check yourself by entering the VIN at safercar.gov.
- Consider hiring an independent mechanic to inspect the car.
- The major mechanical and electrical systems in the car
- Some of the major problems you should look out for
- Whether the vehicle is being sold "as is" or with a warranty
- Shop around to get the best possible price by comparing models and prices in ads and at dealer showrooms. You can also contact car-buying services and broker-buying services to make comparisons.
- Plan to negotiate on price. Dealers may be willing to bargain on their profit margin, often between 10 and 20 percent. Usually, this is the difference between the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) and the invoice price.
- Consider ordering your new car if you don’t see what you want on the dealer’s lot. This may involve a delay, but cars on the lot might have features you don’t want—and that can raise the price. But, dealers often want to sell their current inventory quickly, so you may be able to negotiate a good deal if an in-stock car meets your needs.
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