Five answers to know before you sign on the dotted line
No matter whether you are shopping for a new or used vehicle, there are certain questions you will always want to know the answers to. The answers the dealer provides will tell you whether you are getting the most car for your money.
What are the additional fees?
Legitimate costs include sales tax, registry costs and a documentation fee. However, the amount dealers charge for filling out the contract (the doc fee) is not universal. According to the trusted automotive resource Edmunds.com, some states regulate these fees and cap them below $100, so before you seal any deals, check the paperwork and negotiate down an outrageous doc fee. Another questionable fee you may encounter, in an effort for the dealer to build a potential profit back into the deal, is a “vehicle preparation fee.” This means, for example, they are charging you for making sure there is oil in the vehicle and for performing other menial tasks that one would expect to be done inevitably before a car is rolled off the lot.
Are there any aftermarket parts on the vehicle?
Inclusion of “add-ons”-from things as simple as tinted windows to things as complicated as car alarms-is another way dealers attempt to boost profits by raising prices.
“Mud flaps, rust-proofing and paint sealants make the dealer a lot of money, but you can get them for less-often much less-elsewhere,” writes David Muhlbaum, online editor of Kiplinger.com
Before saying yes to a vehicle purchase, you will want to double-check with the dealer and in the contract, and negotiate accordingly.
What special promotions are you running right now?
Manufacturers are always running sales events, and sometimes dealerships even tack on their own discounts and deals. Investigate up front what promos are going on so you can take a closer look at the vehicles with the best incentives.
“If you’re diligent-and a little bit lucky-you can use one of these events to knock a few thousand dollars off of your total cost or secure 0 percent APR financing for the first year or so of your loan,” says Business Insider personal finance writer Ben DeMeter in an article on Investopedia.
What is the lowest price you can give me?
Instead of telling the auto dealer the highest price you can afford to pay each month, take the reins by figuring out the lowest possible price you would pay on the vehicle in question. While it is smart to go into negotiations with financing options already lined up, the dealer may be able to offer you lower financing, so don’t show your cards too soon.
Can I see an accident history report and title history?
Most dealers these days automatically provide a CARFAX report for all vehicles, as well as an AutoCheck report to be thorough. These documents also report title history, which will disclose any previous problems with the vehicle such as odometer issues, a rebuilt engine or whether it was ever reported stolen. If you choose to proceed without checking one or both of these reports, or something like them, you are putting yourself at risk for a large devaluation of the vehicle.
Once you ask these questions and are satisfied with the responses provided, you can feel comfortable signing on the dotted line as an informed consumer.Used with Permission. Published by IMN Bank Adviser Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.