Car Buying Guide

At the Dealership...

Steps 7-10 of the new and used car buying guide. Inspect, negotiate, avoid scams and my TOP tip to ensure a great deal!

7. New and Used Car Inspections

The seventh step in the car buying guide can be a bit challenging if you are not mechanically inclined, but I'll try to make it easy with some basic areas to inspect.

I always recommend a professional mechanic inspect the vehicle prior to purchasing, but learning how to inspect a vehicle will teach you how to spot obvious problems up front and save you a $75 mechanics inspection fee.

Unfortunately, used car inspections are not a 1, 2, 3 easy and done type of thing to teach. To learn more than what's covered here I'd refer you to my used car inspection guide, you'll be overhauling engines before you know it.

FYI - New cars won't require as in depth an inspection, but you will want to give the interior and exterior a good look over for any damage that may have happened when it was being transported or while sitting on the dealers lot.

This may seem obvious, but look for the "obvious" when inspecting a car.

Do a quick walk around and look for...

  • Offset wheels
  • Broken lights
  • Mismatched paint
  • Obvious dents or dings
  • Cracked or chipped glass
  • Condition of the tires and tread depth

Get under the hood and look for obvious signs of problems...

  • Oil leaks around the engine or on the ground
  • Correct levels of fluid and how clean they are
    • Oil should be brown, not black
    • Transmission fluid should be light red/pink
    • Coolant should be greenish in color
  • Split wires
  • Cracked hoses or belts
  • Corrosion on the battery

When you're inside the vehicle you want to be sure to check...

  • Gauges and lights
  • For the smell of mildew
  • For cold blowing AC
  • All power windows and seats
  • The radio, cassette and CD player
  • Burns holes or tears in the seats

Basically, push buttons and make sure everything works the way it should.

When you drive it make sure there are no loud knocks, bumps, rattles or thumps. Be sure it doesn't pull to one side or the other and that there are no major clouds of smoke coming from the tailpipe. You want the car to accelerate smoothly and stop on a dime!

This is a very important part of the car buying guide if you are buying a used car. Overlook this and you could be making a very expensive glass of lemonade with your lemon...!

8. Four Square Negotiating

Negotiating...Love it or hate it, there comes a time when you'll have to do it. The eighth step in the car buying guide will prepare you to negotiate a four square like a pro!

Car dealerships have been using four squares for years to negotiate car deals. It's pretty straight forward and consists of one square each for the...

  • Sale Price
  • Trade In Value
  • Down Payment
  • Monthly Payments

The key to negotiating car price with a four square is to not do what the dealer wants you to do.

What is it they want you to do?

Well, their goal is to get you to forget about the top two squares (Sale Price and Trade In Value) and focus solely on the bottom two. This is how they make the most profit.

If you fall into this trap you will lose! Negotiate one box at a time starting with the sale price. Get that where you want it to be and then move to your trade in and so on and so on.

For more information on four square negotiating click here or if you hate to negotiate, but still want to save some money, here are some easy tips on buying a new car and some easy tips on buying a used car. Either of those will help you to save some serious money without a long drawn out negotiation.

9. Borrowed Car Agreement

If you've made it to this stage of the car buying guide, then give yourself a big pat on the back! This is what I consider to be the absolutely top car buying tip found throughout this site.

Do not buy the car the first day that you see it and/or the day you negotiate numbers. Ask the dealer if you can borrow the car for the night.

You'll notice this step comes after the negotiation and there is a reason for that. Let them show you all the numbers before you spring this on them, because you want to be able to analyze the numbers from the comfort of your home.

In addition, you'll want to wake up to the car in your driveway to see if you still have that "I've gotta have it" feeling in the morning.

Follow this ninth step in the car buying guide and you're practically guaranteed to eliminate buyers remorse.

If you are using my FREE new and used car negotiating service, then this is a perfect time to complete the Deal Recap form so I can review your deal.

10. Scams in the Finance Office

You may think it's the car salesman that's out to get you, but the real scams happen here. Trust me, I am a Finance Manager and have seen many other Finance Managers uses scams, tricks and ploys to separate nice people like you from their hard earned money.

The best advice I can give you is to never sign any contracts or purchase orders blank. Let me say that one more time, because I've seen it happen so, so, so many times...Do Not Sign Blank Contracts!

In addition, be sure you read (don't just take the Finance Managers word for it) everything contractual that you are being asked to sign and verify that the numbers are the same as what you agreed to.

This is most important with the contract and the purchase order. If the Finance Manager is moving too fast on these two, then ask them to slow down or repeat what it is you are confused about.

Another area where there seems to be confusion and often times scams are with extended warranties. Be sure to read the contract closely and know what coverage you are getting, i.e. level of coverage, when it begins, when it ends, deductible amount, etc.

Read my car buying scams to learn about some of the most common scams in use today.


Who Are You Going to Show Off Your New Car to First?

Alright, the paperwork is done and you're a proud new owner and all that's left to do is to map out a route to all your family and friends houses to show off your new ride. Not so fast! There are a couple more things to consider and not to mention what if something went wrong? Click NEXT below and let's wrap this up!

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