9: Negotiate a Good Deal
Does the idea of "talking numbers" fill you with dread? It shouldn't. Negotiating doesn't have to be a drawn-out, traumatic experience. If you are reasonable and have a plan, chances are you can make a deal pretty quickly and easily:
- Decide ahead of time how much you're willing to spend to get the car. But don't start with this number in your discussion.
- Make an opening offer that is lower than your maximum price, but in the ballpark based on your average price paid research in Step 3. Explain that you've done your research on Edmunds or wherever else, so you have facts to support your offer.
- If you and the seller arrive at a price that sounds good to you and is near the average price paid, you're probably in good shape.
- And remember, the people on the other side probably dislike negotiating too — even if it's their job.
10: Get the Paperwork Done
If you are at a dealership, you'll sign the contract in the finance and insurance office. There, you will likely be offered additional items such as a warranty, anti-theft devices, prepaid service plans or fabric protection.
Some people want the peace of mind that comes with extended warranties, so this is something you might want to consider unless the car is still under the manufacturer's warranty or is a CPO vehicle. Review the dealership sales contract thoroughly. In most states, it lists the cost of the vehicle, a documentation fee, possibly a small charge for a smog certificate, sales tax and license fees.
If you are buying a car from an individual owner, make sure the seller properly transfers the title and registration to you. It's important to close the deal correctly to avoid after-sale hassles. Before money changes hands, ask for the title (which is sometimes called the pink slip) and have the seller sign it over to you. Rules governing vehicle registration and licensing vary from state to state. If possible, check with your local department of motor vehicles to make sure there are no past-due registration fees you'd be responsible for should you buy the car. Whether you buy from a dealer or a private party, make sure you have insurance for the car before you drive it away.
Once you've done the paperwork, it's time to celebrate your new purchase — maybe with a drive-thru dinner. You deserve it!
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