Buying a Used Car at a Dealership
80. If you have tough credit issues and want a specialist at the dealership to help with financing your used-car purchase, contact a dealership manager first and ask to work with that expert.
81. Buy during the week if possible, especially if you are looking to save time. It will probably be faster to buy on a slow Tuesday than on a busy Saturday.
82. To speed up the process, bring all the necessary paperwork, including payment, driver's license, title and current registration for your trade-in vehicle as well as proof of insurance.
83. If you have already arranged financing from a lender, tell the salesperson you're a cash buyer. You can then bargain on the actual price of the vehicle instead of the more confusing practice of negotiation based on a monthly payment.
84. Be on the same page as the salesperson and know what price you're negotiating. Is it just the price of the car, or is it the out-the-door price, which will include taxes and other fees? The difference could be hundreds of dollars.
85. If you have quotes from other dealers for comparable cars, use them as leverage in your current negotiation. The comparison may not be as direct since used cars vary in mileage and options, but it can give you a good reference point.
86. Resist bait-and-switch practices in which a salesperson tries to steer you to a more expensive car. However, listen to salespeople when they make honest suggestions. They may know of a used car in their inventory that you hadn't considered but would be perfect for you.
87. There is strength in numbers. Bring a friend along as your wingman.
88. If you plan on trading in your current car, print out the Edmunds trade-in price and take it with you. It will support your statement of its value and may deflect a lower offer.
89. Get an offer from CarMax for your potential trade-in. Then head out to the dealership to compare it. If you don't like the dealer's offer, you might get more for the car by selling it yourself. Or you can just take the CarMax offer.
90. Just as you do with a new car, you'll conclude your used-car purchase at a dealership's finance and insurance (F&I) office. If you've had a long negotiation, you might be tired. But be sure to pay attention to the key car-buying documents. Don't sign just to get it over with.
91. Review the 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.
92. The finance and insurance manager will probably try to sell you a number of additional items, such as an anti-theft device, prepaid service plan or extended warranty (also called a "vehicle service agreement"). If you want an extended warranty, research the price, coverage and exclusions ahead of time.
93. If you want to buy a used-car extended warranty that's offered by the carmaker, you may be required to buy it on the day you purchase the car. Check the carmakers' websites for more information on those requirements.
94. Dealers are not required by federal law to give used-car buyers a three-day right to cancel (commonly known as a "cooling-off period"), according to the Federal Trade Commission. In some states, though, dealers are required to offer or honor a right to cancel. (In California, for example, a used-car buyer can purchase a two-day "contract cancellation option agreement.") In other states, the right to return the car in a few days for a refund exists only if the dealer chooses to offer this privilege, according to the FTC. Before you buy, ask about the dealer's return policy, get it in writing and read it carefully.
95. If you bought dealer-installed items such as floor mats, be sure they're included. If they're not, ask for a "due bill" for anything that's missing (floor mats are a common example) or for work that has been promised by the dealership (to fix a blown speaker, for example).