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Best Car Deals | How to Find Great Auto Deals

Edmunds.com, the premier online resource for automotive information, today announces its December 2007 True Market Value(R) (TMV(R)) Deals of the Month. The TMV(R) Deals of the Month is Edmunds.com's list of the deals that currently offer the most savings to consumers for new cars, trucks and SUVs.

Edmunds TMV(R) Deals of the Month provides consumers with the best deals in each of seven vehicle categories. When evaluating deals for selection, Edmunds compares the current TMV(R) price of each vehicle to its MSRP and takes into account special loan and lease programs.

Deals currently listed among Edmunds' TMV(R) Deals of the Month include:

-- 2007 Dodge Ram Pickup 1500 4dr Quad Cab 4WD: $8000 Dealer Cash; Deal ends on 01/02/2008

-- 2007 Ford Mustang GT Premium 2dr Coupe: Up to $2750 Customer and Bonus Cash; Deal ends on 01/02/2008

-- 2007 GMC Acadia SLT-1 4dr SUV: 0.0% - 1.9% APR up to 72 months; Deal ends on 01/02/2008

-- 2007 Honda Civic Hybrid 4dr Sedan: $199 per month lease for 36 months; Deal ends on 01/02/2008

-- 2007 Hyundai Azera GLS 4dr Sedan: 0.0% APR up to 72 months or $2000 Customer Cash; Deal ends on 01/02/2008

-- 2007 Nissan Quest 3.5 SL 4dr Minivan: 1.9% - 3.9% APR up to 72 months or $3000 Customer Cash; Deal ends on 01/02/2008

-- 2007 Toyota Matrix XR 4dr Wagon: $1500 Customer Cash; Deal ends on 01/02/2008

"Many dealers are hosting year-end sales to unload their 2007 models," said Jessica Caldwell, Manager of Pricing and Market Analysis for Edmunds.com. "Now is a really good time for consumers to take advantage of these deals."

Edmunds.com's TMV Deals of the Month only takes into account national incentives and rebates. For information on regional deals, visit Edmunds' Incentives and Rebates section at www.edmunds.com/incentives/step1.jsp.  .

Seven Car Shopping Tips That Count: The most important things to know before you enter the showroom

The battle to get the price on your new vehicle starts long before you step in the showroom. Contrary to what your brother-in-law says, or your "friend in the business," buying a car for the best possible price takes time and research. What should you do before you even think of dropping by the local dealer? TheCarConnection.com recommends at least seven things before you sign on the dotted line:

Avoid six-year loans. These have become popular tools to get people into cars they might not otherwise be able to afford by lowering the monthly payment. However, stretching out the payments does not make the car more affordable in reality. The principal balance remains the same, and when you add in the interest/financing costs (and the depreciation in value over time of the car), people taking out six-year loans often end up "upside down" - owing substantially more on the loan than the car is worth. If you can't afford a car without buying into a six-year loan, buy a less expensive car.

Never talk monthly payment. Some people make the mistake of going into a dealership and telling the salesman they want to pay "no more than X dollars per month" - and the salesman is only too happy to oblige (see above). By focusing on the small picture (the monthly payment) you can easily lose track of the big picture (the total sale price plus finance charges). Focus on getting the best price for the car and the lowest possible financing first; worry about how much that works out to per month second.

Shop financing before you shop for the car. Even a great deal on a new car can be ruined if you buy into less-than-great financing. Before you start shopping for the car, you should look into how you'll pay for it. Many people have access to credit unions, which can offer more attractive rates than banks or the automakers' captive finance arms (GMAC, Ford Motor Credit, etc.). Never, ever go see the finance guy at the dealer without having looked into your options beforehand. Many people don't realize it, but you can haggle the financing just as you haggle the price of the car itself. Show the dealer's finance guy what your credit union (or bank) is offering and see if he'll beat it. If not, go with your best offer. A few calls now can save you a lot of grief later on.

Get an insurance quote before you commit to buy. This is another area where unforeseen "peripheral costs" can turn around and bite you. It can cost a great deal more to insure a high-performance sports car or expensive luxury sedan than an ordinary family-type car - especially if you have a ticket or two on your driving record. And in every case, it will add to the bottom line if you're trading in an eight-year-old beater for a brand-new anything. Since insurance costs can be as high as $1000 annually or more, it's important that you factor these outlays into the total cost of ownership before you commit to buying. Ditto annual fuel bills. Take the EPA estimates you find on the car's window sticker and fold that into your calculations as well. If the combined monthly outlay exceeds your comfort level, you'd be wise to look into a less expensive model.

Look into depreciation rates. If you plan to sell or trade your new car down the road, how well it holds its value should be an important consideration taken into account before you buy the thing in the first place. Some makes/models are absolute disasters, losing half their original value in three or four years. Some do much better; the industry average is roughly 20 percent annually. If you plan on driving it until the wheels fall off, higher-than-average depreciation won't matter much (and you can actually score a great deal on such a car new or slightly used, for that very reason). But if you want the car to have decent trade-in value five or six years from now, it will matter a great deal indeed. Researching online and consulting used car pricing guides will give you a very good idea about which brands and individual models tend to hold their value well. Or not so well.

Know your trade-in. Don't just focus on getting the best possible price on your next new car; be equally sure you know the fair market value of your current car - so that you don't get taken on the trade-in. Consult used car pricing guides (National Automobile Dealers Association, Kelly Blue Book, etc.) to find out the retail/wholesale price range for your vehicle. You want to get as close to the retail value (and as far from wholesale) as possible. It's also a smart move to thoroughly clean the car up, inside and out - to make it as presentable as possible. Bringing a dirty, sad-looking trade only gives the dealer ammunition to nitpick it to death - and throw a lowball offer your way.

Take it for a real test drive. Not just a quickie around the block - as many people make the mistake of doing. A short drive will not tell you how the seat will feel after a couple of hours on the road. And you won't know the car has inadequate power for safe merging/passing unless you take the time to do some freeway driving. Family members who will be spending time in the car should also get the chance to try the car out with you. Otherwise, you'll be living with their complaints (and maybe a sore backside if the seats turn out to be too hard) for the next several years. Insist on an at least an afternoon's test drive before you buy. Most dealers will accommodate this entirely reasonable request. If not, better to walk away and try someplace else. Otherwise, you're buying a pig in a poke.

More car shopping tips from TheCarConnection.com

How to Refinance a Car After Bankruptcy

Stephen Snyder

OK, you've filed bankruptcy. Your credit isn't great, but you need to buy a car.

So you go to the local car dealership and believe the salesman when he says...

"Buy this car today at this high interest rate and we'll refinance you in 12 months at the lowest interest rate possible."

Recovering from bankruptcy is easier than you thought! Time to celebrate, right?

WRONG!

Don't Believe Everything a Car Salesman Tells You

Every day car dealers repeat the "refinance in 12 months" lie to bankrupt people to push them to purchase cars at extremely high interest rates. You may have financed a car through a high-interest lender knowing that it's not the best choice. But you probably thought it was your only option at the time and you justified it by thinking you could refinance to a lower interest rate later.

But, when you try to refinance the car months later, you find out the car dealer lied to you.

Best Way to Refinance a Car After Bankruptcy

The first thing you need to determine is whether you qualify to refinance, or if you're better off just selling or trading-in your car. So let's start with how much your car is worth.

The biggest mistake most people make when determining the true value of their car is they base their research on the private party value. You need either the trade-in or dealer retail value.

Here's how to get the value of your car...

Step #1: Go to Edmunds.com. I think Edmunds is one of the best all around automobile sites on the web.

Step #2: When you get on the front page, click on "What's your car worth?" It's written in small type and a little tough to find, but it'll be somewhere on the main page. Or you can go straight to the Used Car Appraiser.

Step #3: Follow the steps and click on the make, model and year of your car.

Step #4: Fill in the vehicle details and any optional equipment your car has.

You'll see three different values for your car: Trade-In, Private Party and Dealer Retail. The two values you need to pay attention to are Trade-In and Dealer Retail.

Some lenders base their refinancing on the trade-in value and others on the retail value. Ideally, you want to find a lender that uses the retail value, as it's always higher.

Now that you know the true value of your car, the next step is to call and get your loan payoff from your lender. Loan payoff is what you still owe on the car.Getting a hold of your lender may be tricky. If you've defaulted on the loan, your auto lender may cut off all communication with you. So, if you're having a tough time getting through to your lender, ask for the collections department. They're your best bet for getting through to a live person.

Ask what the payoff on your car is. If you're leasing the car, be sure to add the total remaining payments, residual amount and any early termination fees the lender requires so you get the true payoff amount.

Now subtract the value of your car from the payoff amount.

Do you owe less than the car is worth? If so, great...you'll have more choices and options.

What to do if you owe more than your car is worth

If you owe more on your car than it's worth (commonly referred to as being "upside down") you need to dig a little deeper.Now that you know what your car is worth and how much you still owe on it, it's time to start calling lenders.

Credit unions and banks are the best sources for refinancing your car. Car manufacturers rarely refinance—unless it's for a luxury car. Just make sure the lender you use reports to all three credit reporting agencies. I talk about the importance of reporting to all three agencies in Life After Bankruptcy Issue #12.

The four most important questions to ask lenders when you're about to refinance your car

The four big questions to ask each lender are:

1. "Do you refinance based on the trade-in or dealer retail value of the car?"
2. "What percentage over retail/trade-in value will you lend?"
3. "Which credit reporting agency do you use?"
4. "What FICO credit score do I need to be approved for refinancing?"

Keep in mind that lenders who refinance usually will lend no more than 125% of the trade-in or retail value. The average amount a lender will refinance is 110%. This means that if you're upside down on more than 10% of the value of your car, you're going to have to come up with the difference before the lender gives you the loan.

If you want to figure out how much you'll need to borrow from a lender to refinance, download the free Auto Refinance Worksheet™ and I'll walk you through the calculation process.If you're not in a position to refinance right now, you have another alternative—trade in your current car for another one with a manufacturer's rebate.

The Power of Manufacturer Rebates

A lot of new car manufacturers offer huge rebates to move new cars out the door. There's a big incentive for a dealer to sell a new car.You need to locate the highest rebate offer you can find and work toward trading-in your car to eliminate any upside down situation.

Before you go to a new car dealer, go to www.edmunds.com and look up the rebate and interest rate on every new car and truck a manufacturer offers. This way, if the car salesman isn't being fair with you (as far as rebates and interest rates are concerned) you'll know.

Just go to Edmunds.com and click on "New Cars" and then on "Incentives & Rebates" and you'll get all the information you need.

Some Car Manufacturers Offer Rebates Up to $6,000

It's not a good situation to be upside down on a high-interest car loan that you need to refinance. However, you can get around it by purchasing a new car with a large rebate. You just use the rebate to offset the amount you owe on your old car.

And if you find a car with a higher rebate (highly recommended), you're in even better shape. If the rebate is high enough, it can eliminate your negative equity and you can use any remaining amount as part—or maybe even all—of your down payment.

So, if you're $6,000 or less upside down, you can still come out smelling like a rose if you play your cards right.

Ask the car salesman this magic question...

In addition, don't be afraid to ask the car salesman this important question: "What car or truck on your lot do you need to sell immediately?"

If you're in a negative equity situation (meaning you owe more than the car or truck is worth) you need every advantage you can get your hands on. Ask the auto dealer to sell you the oldest car in their inventory.

Car dealers are willing to take a loss on vehicles they're having a tough time selling because it costs them more to keep these cars on the lot compared to selling them right away at a slight loss. This could mean another $500 to $3,000 discount for you!

You still need a high enough score to qualify

Just like every other major purchase you make on credit, you need to meet a minimum FICO score requirement in order to qualify for a loan from the lender...especially if the lender is a bank or credit union.

For instance, on new cars one manufacturer requires a FICO score of:

680 and above to get a 125% loan
650 to 679 to get a 115% loan
620 to 649 to get a 110% loan
And a FICO score below 620 gets you only a 100% loan


Any loan over 100% will go toward paying off what you owe on the car you're trading in.

Bottom line: the higher your FICO credit scores are—the more options you'll have and better terms you'll receive. That's why we're always preaching to increase your credit scores.

10 Ways To Outwit A Car Dealer

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."

That's all well and good on the playground, but it's a different story in a car showroom.

That's because auto dealers have their own colorful slang that says something about how the car business operates; some pitfalls to watch out for; and, in some cases, how some of the more cynical dealerships see the customer.
In Pictures: 10 Ways To Outwit A Car Dealer

Many car dealer terms can be applied to customers. Quite a few, like "Minnie the Moocher" are not compliments. (In the Cab Calloway song, Minnie the Moocher dreams she has $1 million in nickels and dimes, which she counts a million times.) A "mooch" is a customer who wants everything, without paying for anything. Not something the dealer likes to see.

Another such term: Be-back. This is a customer who makes multiple visits, as in, "I'll be back." Salespeople get paid on commission, so naturally their first priority is to close the deal.

Don't allow yourself to be rushed. If the salesperson is helpful and knowledgeable on your first visit (on your first visit, you're called an "up"), get their business card and ask for them next time. Consumers should negotiate hard, but they shouldn't get so caught up in the nickels and dimes that they lose sight of the big picture.

Nor should they take to the "ether" and let the details flow in one ear and out the other.

It's important to take your time. Read the fine print. Don't fall in love with a particular car--at least, not so much in love that you get in a rush and won't settle for anything else.

"Good advice," says Rosemary Shahan, president of the Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety advocacy group, in Sacramento, Calif.

Money Grubbing
She says another term to watch out for is "dealer reserve." Often poorly understood, it refers to the markup the dealer applies to the interest rate on your car loan.

Dealers make money for arranging loans. Based on how risky the customer is, the lender approves a loan at the so-called "buy" rate. The dealer hikes the buy rate to the rate you pay, up to a ceiling specified by the lender, usually a couple of additional percentage points. The difference, called "dealer reserve," is a big source of dealer profit.
Sneak a peek at the 2008 wheels car nuts are most looking forward to driving.

There's nothing illegal about it. Dealers and auto lenders have argued successfully in several lawsuits that arranging loans at the point of sale is a valuable, convenient service. And the National Automobile Dealers Association is quick to point out that in independent consumer surveys, most people say they are satisfied with their dealerships.

People should know that the dealership, not the bank or the finance company, sets the final interest rate you pay. "Most people have no idea that the dealer is getting what in essence is a kickback on the loan," Shahan says. "It is an undisclosed conflict of interest." Potentially, the interest rate is even negotiable.

However, Ron Burdge, a Dayton, Ohio, attorney who specializes in "Lemon Law" complaints, said that even if you know this, few dealerships will budge.

"What's negotiable about it," he says, "is it just means you can go somewhere else if you don't like it."

Bottom Line
For the consumer, it pays to know the behind-the-scene details; it also pays to shop around and study up so you know even a few words of the local language. http://www.forbes.com/vehicles/2007/06/22/cars-lingo-dealer-forbeslife-cx_jh_0622cars.html 

5 Reasons to Buy a New Car

By John Rosevear June 14, 2007

11 Recommendations

Yesterday I pointed out several reasons to consider buying a used car instead of a new one. For many Fools, used cars are a tremendous value purchase. But there certainly are benefits to buying new, benefits that go well beyond that intoxicating stew of volatile organic compounds.

So what do you get for that 30% premium you pay for buying a new car instead of a two- or three-year-old used one?

* A longer, more comprehensive warranty. Of course, that discount special parked in front of Joe's Bait and Easy-Pay Used Cars doesn't have any warranty at all. But the best used cars -- the lightly used former lease cars sold by new car dealers under factory "certification" programs -- do come with warranties. While "certified" cars can offer good value, certification-program warranties are never as good as that manufacturer's new-car warranty. Some new car warranties even cover oil changes and the like, for three or four years, or as many as 50,000 miles.

* The latest safety, convenience, and environmental features. This one speaks for itself. If you want the best airbags and electronic stability systems and super-deluxe seat-warmer doodads -- and the cleanest engines -- you've got to buy new.

* A car that lasts longer. Beyond the obvious -- a new car should have two to three years' more life in it than a two- or three-year-old one -- there's an additional advantage to buying new. Are you a stickler for maintenance? If you are, your car will last longer and deliver more value. But unless you've got access to a used car's full service history, you don't know whether its first owner changed the oil once every 3,000 miles, or once a year. Careless maintenance early in a car's life can have long-term effects that might not show up until much later.

* Better financing terms. Unless you're planning on paying cash for that new ride, financing costs will be a sizeable chunk of what you pay to own your car over the first few years. Buying new entitles you to low-cost factory financing and (often) special deals, which can represent a sizeable savings over a bank loan. And even if you do finance through your bank, you'll often pay more on a used car loan. Rates on used car loans from major banks such as Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) and Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) are often a full percentage point higher -- or more -- than their new car loan rates.

* A simpler purchase process. Buying a new or used car is nobody's idea of fun. But when you're buying new, you know what's available, you know where to go to get it, and most importantly, you know what it's going to cost you. It's easy to find a new car's "invoice" price -- the dealer's cost -- from sources such as Edmunds.com and Consumer Reports, and to learn the average selling price of your desired beastie. The price you end up paying will vary from there depending on your negotiation skills and local supply and demand, but it won't vary like used car prices do.

One last note: all of the above points assume that you're planning to own the car for a long time, until it's old and tired. If you're the sort who likes to trade every two or three years, I urge you to consider used-car options carefully. You take a financial hit every time you trade in a car, and that hit gets bigger if you have to eat new-car depreciation every time around. Whatever you decide, add up the total costs before you buy, and make sure that your new purchase won't get in the way of your long-term financial goals.

Looking for other ways to get an advantage on regular expenses? Check out the Motley Fool Green Light newsletter, where Fools Dayana Yochim and Shannon Zimmerman offer up hundreds of dollars of money-saving tips every month. Help yourself to their best ideas, free for 30 days.

Fool contributor and horsepower addict John Rosevear likes car dealers even less than he likes full-service brokers, which is probably why he hasn't bought a new car in several years. He doesn't own any of the stocks mentioned above. Bank of America is an Income Investor recommendation. As Lee Iacocca would surely say, if you can find a better disclosure policy than The Motley Fool's, buy it.

Don't Buy Used Before Getting A CARFAX Report

Shopping for a used car can be an exciting time, but not being careful can ruin the whole process in a hurry. In life there are some things that you must do, and getting a CARFAX report on a used car while you are shopping is one of them. This article will explain what a CARFAX report entails, and why any used car buyer should get one before making a purchase.

So what is a CARFAX report you ask? Using each vehicle's title and VIN number, CARFAX compiles a detailed car history report on every vehicle manufactured after 1981. A car history report will tell you all kinds of information such as: previous accident reports, lemon history, emissions inspection history, the previous use of the vehicle (rental, taxi, etc) whether the title was salvaged and so much more.

The CARFAX website offers an extensive car history report on any vehicle manufactured in 1981 or later for only $25. For just $5 more you sign up for a service that gives you unlimited vehicle history reports for 30 days. Both of these offers are going to be the best possible research you can do before buying a used car. Imagine not spending the $25, only to find out the used car you thought was in good shape was in fact flooded in Hurricane Katrina.

It truly is unbelievable the amount of history CARFAX is able to report to you on each vehicle. The vehicle history will report if the car has been stolen, salvaged, or auctioned. It will also alert you if the car has been flooded (or even registered in a flood disaster area), been in an accident (the report will even show if the airbags have been deployed), totaled, deemed a lemon, and how the car has been used (taxi, lease, rental car, government, or certified pre-owned.) In addition to accident reports the vehicle history will give odometer readings throughout its history, alert you to vehicle recalls, the number of previous owners, where the car was purchased and sold, service records, and show the car's standard equipment and associated reliability ratings.

Knowing the history of a car you are buying is fantastic information to protect the buyer from paying too much for a damaged vehicle, but another great advantage of a CARFAX report is that it gives you solid evidence for negotiation. One very intelligent way I have heard of people using their CARFAX report to get a lower price is noting the date the car's lease ended and how long the car has been sitting on a dealer's lot since the expiration date. No dealer is trying to sit on a car, rather it is sitting because no one else would buy it for that price either. Now you have the control and can offer any price you deem fair.

Despite the countless advantages a car history report from CARFAX offers, it is not completely foolproof. Thieves will be thieves and so they are always searching for a way around the law and how not to get caught. Odometer fraud still happens and closely looking at a CARFAX report will only tip you in the right direction. Also, accidents with damage totaling less than $1000 often go unreported, and thus will not appear on the vehicle report. Something else to keep in mind is that VIN numbers were not available on vehicles made before 1981, and thus a CARFAX report would not be useful.

In addition to obtaining a detailed vehicle history on a used car, it is also a great idea to have a trusted mechanic give a car a thorough inspection. Most auto shops have a list of items to look for in a used car to ensure they are in good condition and as advertised. A quality mechanic will certainly notice any damage to the car that may have gone unnoted in the vehicle history, and will allow you to make an informed decision before buying a used car (another investment that is well worth it in my opinion.)

It seems safe to say that spending $25 for a thorough report on a used car would be well worth the money in the long run. CARFAX reports offer an array of information that will prove helpful in making a decision on whether or not to buy a used car. In fact, the vehicle history report could even help you negotiate a fairer price on the car of your choice. Don't try and cut corners because the consequences could be costly.

Jake Newberry is a salesman for NuStar Motors, a used car dealers Sacramento dealer. Jake knows firsthand that taking a few precautionary steps before buying a used car can save you money in the long run, and he recommends a CARFAX report to all used car buyers.

Car Buying Tips - Five Things You Need to Know to Avoid Hidden Fees and Additional Costs

Before purchasing your next car, you're going to want to check for hidden costs, add-on fees, and other charges. You could end up spending hundreds, even thousands, of dollars over the lifetime of your loan.

Once you've found the car you want, it's time to sit down with your sales rep to negotiate the terms of your contract. After a little back and forth on price, figuring out your interest rate, and calculating your monthly payment, you're ready to sign on the dotted line, right?

Not so fast.

When you read the fine print you may find that additional fees and charges have found their way into your contract – including add-ons you didn't necessarily ask for.

Most car buyers are so focused on getting the best interest rate and negotiating the most affordable monthly payment that they're unconcerned with the fine print of the contract. By the time they get to the step where they review and sign the paperwork, if the sales rep is throwing industry terms at them that they don't fully understand, they're becoming exhausted from the entire process and just want to get it over with.

Here are a few insider tips to make sure you don't regret signing those papers.

1.) Read the Fine Print

While this seems pretty obvious and self-explanatory, it's amazing how trusting the consumer can be. Honestly, the last time you bought a car, did you read and fully understand the contract before you signed it? Probably not. Most people don't.

Some unscrupulous car dealerships are betting on that. Because most people don't read the fine print, some sales reps can slide in additional, undisclosed charges or extras with huge mark-ups to their profit.

Also, make sure there are no blank spaces on your finance contract that can be filled in later – wherever there are blank spaces, write in "$0" or "N/A."

2.) Typical Extras

Most of us are familiar with learning about the standard features of an automobile and then figuring out which additional features we are willing to pay extra for, but here are some extras to look out for when reviewing your contract:

* Rust proofing
* Extended warranty
* Fabric protector
* Car alarm (including Lojack, a device police use to find your car if you report it stolen)
* Paint sealant
* Credit life insurance
* GAP
* Window etching

The value of such extras depends on individual customer needs and situations. If the sales rep attempts to tell you that some or all of these extras are standard for every vehicle on the lot, ask to order your car from the factory, or suggest the dealership trade with another dealer that hasn't pre-packaged their vehicles.

Extra products can add thousands to the negotiated price of the vehicle. Most products fill a customer need that when priced and disclosed correctly and can add real value to the whole transaction.

The problems with extras occur in two areas. First, when the sales rep doesn't spend the time necessary to determine which products fit the specific needs of the customer. Rather than suggest specific extras individually priced, the sales rep lumps all the products together and pushes you to buy them as a package.

Second, unscrupulous sales reps can add thousands of dollars to the amount financed for these products, but not disclose the price increase until the last possible moment, when the financing contracts are being signed.

3.) Documentation and Administration Fees

Federal, state, and local governments are pushing more and more of their regulatory cost onto the local dealerships. In an effort to offset some of these fees and services dealers are required to perform, most add, a documentation or administration fee to the total cost of the transaction. Depending on state and local regulations, fee adding $100 to $150 seem reasonable and cover most of these additional items. These services include:

* Duplicate Title Fees
* Notice of Security Interest (to perfect lien)
* 30-day Permits
* Federal terrorist matching data bases
* Federal information privacy requirements
* State vehicle id verification
* Highway Patrol Inspections for out-of-state titles
* Registering leases at customer's county of residence
* Carfax
* FedEx charges/Shipping charges
* Additional title addendums
* Truth in lending record retention

Some dealers have taken up the practice of marking up documentation and administrative fees and are now charging as high as $300 to $500 per sale. A few are even higher. The charge for most of these fees seems to be more based on getting a customer to pay extra after the customer has finished negotiating, not the average amount it cost to get most deals through various state and federal regulations, as implied.

4.) Ask for a Menu System Disclosure

The best disclosure method I've seen in years involved using a menu system. On a separate sheet of paper the rep produces a document that includes:

The negotiated price of the vehicle or trade difference

The additional price of suggested extras (these can be shown as various option packages that may save money when bought in combination and as individually priced options)

New totals initialed by both parties

This procedure makes sure that any suggested extras are properly explained and disclosed. It also allows the customer time to consider each item separate from the longer and potentially confusing finance documents. The final numbers from the menu should get carried over directly to the finance document.

5.) Other Costs

When buying a car, remember that there are other "hidden" costs (or, costs that aren't usually considered), that go beyond the dealership.

During the lifetime of your vehicle, you're going to have to pay for registration and tags, taxes, insurance, oil changes and fuel every year, and periodically pay for maintenance and repairs. Older models (cars more than 3-5 years old) may cost less up front, but you will likely need to factor more maintenance and repair costs into your budget than if you bought a newer model. While new models need fewer repairs and maintenance work, you will have to pay more up front.

Your wallet does not have to go through the ringer the next time you decide to visit a new or used car dealer. You can protect yourself from blindly signing into an unfavorable car deal by doing your homework, going to a car dealership with a good reputation, being prepared, asking questions, and double checking behind your sales rep.

About the Author
Scott Conklin is president of Conklin Cars, a Salina new and used car dealer, Hutchinson new/used car dealer, and Newton new/used car dealer in Kansas. You can shop their inventory of 300 new and used cars, trucks, and SUVs at any of their three locations.

Car Buying Tips - Dealers' Top 10 Advertising Scams

1) Push, Pull, or Drag Sale

A piece of junk on Wednesday is still a piece of junk on Saturday. There are ads that claim that no matter what condition you trade is in, they'll give you $1500, $2000, or even $3000 for it in trade.

Foolish people flock in. Some even drive off with a new or used car. They were given $3,000 for their 1983 Chevette and they feel like they just ripped somebody off. The truth is that they probably just got ripped off.

Most car dealers have around $2000 to $2500 worth of markup built into the price of their lower end vehicles and more (sometimes much more) built into their higher priced ones. When they put on their Push, Pull, or Drag sale, all they do is mark up their vehicles an additional amount equal to their "minimum trade allowance." By doing this, they can give you a ton for your Chevette and still make thousands.

2) $10,000 Best Price Guarantee

This is a great one for traffic. Many dealers claim that if they can't beat a deal, they'll give you $10,000. They might as well say they'll give you $10,000,000, because it isn't going to happen either way.

When it comes to new vehicles, the market is impossibly competitive. 95% of new car dealers will match the price than any other dealer gives on an exact same vehicle. But not all of them guarantee the claim with money, simply because they don't want to insult the intelligence of the consumer. The bad part is, not all consumers are intelligent enough to recognize that unless another dealer is willing to lose more than $10,000 on a vehicle, they'll NEVER pay the money.

3) Buy a Car, get a "Free" _______(fill in the blank)

Big screens. Camcorders. Computers. Whatever the item is, it isn't free. The price is simply built into the cost of the vehicles. A car deal that would normally bring $3000 profit may "only" bring $2200 after they give you the $800 gift certificate to Circuit City or Best Buy.

4) "When we make a deal, we'll pay off your trade no matter how much you owe!"

They might as well say, "When we buy groceries, we'll pay at the register no matter how much we owe."

The key phrase in this sentence is "When we make a deal..." Paying off the trade is part of making the deal. If they cannot pay off the trade because the consumer owes too much, they won't make a deal. It's the kind of doubletalk that gives car dealers a bad name.

5) Half Price Program Car Sale

Many cars, especially domestic mid-sized sedans, depreciate quickly from their original MSRP. A Lincoln Town Car, for example, may have an MSRP around $50,000. After the deep rebates and discounts, it's possible to buy one a few month before the next model year in the low $30's.

After a year and 20,000 miles, they can be purchased at the Lincoln dealer auction for the low $20's. Dealers can then mark them up modestly and still sell them for half the price of the original MSRP.

While this isn't exactly a scam, it can be misleading and is a perfect example of how the domestic market needs to reduce prices instead of keeping the prices high and offering huge rebates.

To see if the vehicle is really a good deal, find similar ones on some of the automotive classified sites like Autotrader, Used Car Search, or Cars.

6) The Good Old Fashion Loss Leader

This is by far the most common dealer scam out there. No, there is nothing outwardly dishonest about it, but it can be misleading nonetheless. A loss leader is where the dealership advertises a vehicle at a greatly discounted rate. While they may have 50 Honda Civics to choose from, they only have one or two that can be sold at the advertised price.

The loss leader is usually stripped down with no options, manual transmission, and sometimes even with no air conditioner. Consumers come in to buy it, but usually get switched to one that has more of what they want.

7) Internet Price Discounts

This one is not always a scam, but usually it is. You have to read the fine print.

For automotive websites, the number one data capture tool is the pop-up or some variation. They may come up as soon as you enter the homepage, after you close it, in front, behind the browser, or any of the clever new ways to lock customers into filling out the information form. Normally, they offer a few hundred dollars in discount for printing and bringing in the coupon, "check", or voucher.

In the fine print, most will say that the discount voucher must be presented before negotiations start. In other words, "Show me the voucher so I can include that value in our discount."

Most dealerships have some measure of room in their prices to allow for discounts. These vouchers normally will not help get any larger discount than if the customer never brought them in, but hey, the voucher did its part to get you in, didn't it?

Not all new and used car dealer websites offer these frivolous discount vouchers. Some of the more respected ones from coast to coast use good website strategies to show their cars, offer their services, and help consumers make a deal.

Automotive Websites like Atlantic City Chevrolet Dealers and Los Angeles Honda Dealers use honest and quality methods to not only have a great dealership, but also great websites.

8) $88 Down, $88 per Month

For anyone who doesn't think this may be a scam, please do the math. Better yet, check a payment calculator. A $10,000 car at $88 down, $88 per month at 6.9% would take 181 payments to pay off.

That's a month longer than a 15 year mortgage.

In the fine print, you'll find that the $88 per month is introductory and the real payments kick in on the fourth payment.

9) $199 Month SUV

Similiar to the previous, but different. Again, read the fine print.

It is either a long lease with a large down payment or it's a purchase with 25% down and a 96 month term. That's eight years for anyone who is counting.

This is one of the best scams because it usually results in switching the customer from a new to a used one that will allow higher profits. Dirty, dirty, dirty.

10) Buy One, Get One Free

This is the granddaddy. Buy a car, and get a second one for no additional cost. WOW!

Just make sure you get a good driver to go with you to bring the 1989 Nissan Sentra with flood damage home with you after you overpay for your other vehicle.

Automotive Websites - TK Carsites is an automotive web design firm in Orange, CA, specializing in creating and hosting custom dealer websites and internet tools. Winner of Auto Dealer Monthly’s Dealers’ Choice Award for Best Web Design in 2005, 2006, and 2007. Their car dealers include Atlantic City Chevrolet Dealers and Los Angeles Honda Dealers.

The Invoice Price on New Cars - Is the Invoice Price the Dealer's Cost?

You may have seen the Invoice Price listed on a new car label. So what is invoice price? Is it the Price the dealer paid for the vehicle?

Despite the insistence of some dealers, the simple answer to that question is one huge NO. You may have heard of dealers offering a car for just one dollar above invoice, and in some cases even below invoice price. While the dealer may be a nice guy (yes most of them are nice) they are not running a charity. They are in the business to make money, and they are making money even if they are selling a car below invoice. So what is the true dealer’s cost?

The dealer’s actually cost is the invoice cost minus holdback and any factory to dealer incentives. In some cases this can be thousands of dollars. How does this work? Let’s say you buy a printer from a computer company, and that company charges $100 for that printer. The printer also comes with a mail in rebate of $40, so in actuality you are only paying $60 and not $100 for that printer. If you were to resale that printer for $80 then you would be making $20 profit and not $20 loss.

Now, let’s use a real life example. Let’s say the dealer has a corolla on his lot that has invoice price of 14,500. It has factory to dealer incentive of $900 and dealer holdback of $450. If that dealer was to sell that car to you at invoice price then he or she is still making a profit of 1,350. In most cases, the dealer is happy to make this amount of profit, and in some cases the dealer is satisfied to take even less.

You should know that in most cases the dealer is very reluctant to let you know the true price of the car. You, however, can get this information on the web at many of the car quotes sites out there. Remember, the car buyer that gets the best deal is the one that is best informed. So if you do your research, and you are able to obtain the dealer’s cost you will have much more bargaining power in the negations for a new car.

Would you like to purchase your next car close to invoice? The best way to get your car close to invoice is to use car quotes from the internet. You can find some of the best car quote sites on the web here: http://www.speedycarquotes.com  Make the Dealers compete for you.

6 New Car Buying Tips - How To Outsmart the Dealer And Get The Best Price

When I bought my first new car, I was just out of college and felt flush with cash. I had just started working full time and I was enjoying my new salary. After donating my old clunker of a car to charity, I confidently strolled into the Volkswagen dealership to pick out a brand new Jetta.

The salesman must have heard cash registers going off in his head as he looked me over and saw me for the easy mark I was.

I'm not proud to admit it, but I got taken.

I bought a car alright, but I ended up with more extra features than I needed or wanted. I also paid a lot more than I had planned.

But the next time around it was a whole different story. I had picked up some new car buying tips over the years and I was able to use them to my advantage to get myself a great deal.

You can do the same if you follow these 6 simple new car buying tips:

1. Know what you want before you even get close to the dealership. Research the different car models online so you can walk into the dealership knowing exactly what you want. Skilled salesmen can easily talk undecided buyers into unnecessary upgrades and features.

2. Do your homework. There are plenty of websites that offer new car reviews, pricing, and comparisons of different models. The more knowledge you have the better informed your choice will be. The dealer's invoice price is especially important. Dealers hate when you know how much they paid for the car because it takes away one of their biggest edges in negotiating for car prices.

3. Dealers love to combine the purchase price, finance charges, and value of your trade-in into one number. This way they can play with numbers and try to confuse you into thinking they're giving up more than they are. You can keep them from doing this by insisting to negotiate each individually.

4. You can take away one of the dealer's biggest bargaining chips if you secure financing ahead of time. Go to your bank or credit union and secure a new car loan before you head to the dealer. This lets you focus strictly on the price of the car. Once you've agreed on a price, you can always see if the dealer will beat the rate you already have.

5. Timing is key. You want to hit the dealer when he is most likely to give you a good deal. The ideal time is just before the next year's models arrive as they will need to make room for the new stock. You can get a great deal on the previous year's model. The end of the month is also a good time because salesmen who are short of their monthly quota will be pushing hard to make sales. Also, go late at night an hour or two before the dealership closes. They'll be more anxious to close the deal so they can go home and see their families.

6. Above all, whenever you are negotiating new car prices with a dealer you must continuously remind yourself..."This guy is NOT my friend." Don't fall for the old "I really want to give you a good deal. It's my boss that's taking a hard line here."

The salesman's goal is to get you to pay as much money as possible. He doesn't want to be your friend and he doesn't want to invite you to his house for a barbecue. All he sees when he looks at you is dollar signs. Remember that, and take everything he says with a grain of salt.

Follow these simple new car buying tips and you'll drive off the lot knowing you got the best deal possible.

Mike Collins is the owner of www.MikesMoneyTips.com,  a friendly place to learn money saving tips and ideas for making money at home.

Used Cars Online - 5 Reputable Places to Find Used Vehicles Online

Maintaining and Driving your vehicle are high priority, but often I’m asked about used cars, where to find them, and how to find a good one. I’ve always believed most of the value of a vehicle is in the care it receives, but, you need to start out with a high quality vehicle when you purchase. If you’re purchasing a used vehicle, I suggest finding a place where each vehicle is run through a regular check to make sure it’s working well before you drive it off the showroom floor.

1. www.Usedcars.com  offers excellent value and claims to promote the worlds best used car inventory.

“Since 1994, we've helped millions of car shoppers find used cars online at the best deal for their dream automobile and a no-hassle buying experience. We are the Internet's largest used car buying service, with over a half a million used car listings.” After searching their list a few months ago and locating an excellent value on a Used Truck, I recommend their site for searching online. The Longevity of their site, as stated by the quote above indicates they provide value.

2. EBay.com has provided excellent options, through independent auto sales by auto owners.

I haven’t personally purchased a vehicle through www.eBay.com,  however, several friends and associates have, and their experiences have been good. Each of them have been quite happy with their vehicle, and satisfied with their purchase.

Buying from an individual often results in lower investment, but you have to check out the vehicle yourself. Don’t count on any warrantee, there isn’t any.

3. Craiglist.org offers valuable vehicles sold by the owner, or occasionally a dealership promoting a sale.

My sister recently purchased a 14 year old Ford Mustang over www.Craigslist.org  and is totally happy with the results. Her ‘new to her’ Mustang was well cared for, a prime baby looking for a new home. This former commuter vehicle is in cherry condition, with a cherry exterior and like new gray interior, low mileage, no dents, no dings.

4. www.Cars.com  provides search information for more than 2 million new and used cars.

Check the listings, view photos of the vehicles, dealer descriptions, and more. Cars.com also promises to sell your car at thousands over trade-in. Dealer reviews and representations offer some assurance that the vehicle is in quality condition.

5. www.Internetautoguide.com  presents variable options for new and used cars, including rebates, discounts, and buyer options.

Their service extends to offering low gas prices on their website. If you’re looking for a way to cut your gas costs, you might want to check their site for valuable deals and lower gas mileage.

Used car options vary widely from site to site, but often searching for specifics will result in a solution you can afford, within your location ranges, even when you’re searching world wide.

Are you looking for better options?

Visit http://fordtruck.cn  for more information about better options for Auto Buyers.