How Much Should I Pay for a Car?

What to Pay for a Car — What’s a Good Price?

what should I pay for my new carHere’s how to determine a fair price for brand new cars (see below for used-car pricing).

What to Pay For a New Car

All new cars have a window sticker that displays the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP). It may also include destination charges, dealer-installed option prices, and other miscellaneous charges. The total of these charges is the price you would pay for that vehicle, less sales tax, without any discounts or rebates.

All these charges but destination charge can be negotiated. Manaufacturers charge dealers this fee for vehicle delivery, and dealers simply pass it along to customers without markup. It cannot be eliminated from the cost of a car.

Price can be negotiated for most vehicles. Unless the vehicle is a hot seller and in short demand, it’s usually possible to get dealers to discount the MSRP. But, how much? What’s the best price I can expect?

Here’s your strategy for negotiating price. Read more

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Lease or Buy – Which is Better?

Lease vs Buy? What’s the Difference?

One of the best ways to decide between car leasing and buying with a loan is to directly compare the attributes of each, which we will show you in this article. We’ll tell you about how payments compare, about how fees are different, about advantages, and disadvantages.

Another way to help make a decision between leasing and buying is to compare the cost of each for a specific lease vs. buy situation. For this, you’ll need a special Lease vs. Buy Calculator.

Now, let’s take a look at how car leasing compares with buying with a loan. Read more

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Cheapest Car Leases – $199 or Less

best car lease dealsMany car companies offer special lease deals on selected models and styles each month. Some are very affordable at less than $200 a month.

This month, we list over 50 leases for $199 or less. The list gets larger every month as car manufacturers increasingly work to attract new customers by offering low monthly car costs.

These are usually genuinely good deals that are worth considering as long as you like the models and styles being promoted. The deals usually only last for one month, require a down payment, and have a specific mileage allowance — usually 1000 miles per month, average. Be aware that these deals may vary by region of the country.

Most lease deals are for 24 or 36 month terms. At the end of the lease you can simply return the car, or you can purchase it for the guaranteed purchase price stated in your lease contract. In some cases, you may have equity in the car (it’s worth more than the purchase price) such that it makes sense to buy it and sell it for a profit, or use it as a trade-in for another new vehicle.

Here are the cheapest car lease deals being offered at this time:

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Basics of Car Leasing

How Does Car Leasing Work?

Car leasing is extremely popular because it offers a more affordable method of auto financing. It allows you to have lower monthly payments than with traditional auto loans. About one out of every five vehicles driven by automotive consumers in the United States are leased.

But car leasing is not for everyone. Is leasing good for a teen’s first car? What are the pros and cons of leasing?

Leasing is a little more complicated than buying with a loan, so you should take the time to learn about leasing, and be sure it’s right for you before making a decision.

What is a Lease?

Both leasing and buying a car with a loan are simply two different methods of financing. Where a purchase loan is a method of financing the ownership of a vehicle, leasing is financing the use of a vehicle for a specified number of months, similar to renting but not quite the same thing. Read more

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Lease vs Buy Calculator

How to use a Lease vs Buy Calculator

When you use a Lease vs Buy Calculator such as the one at LeaseGuide.com, you should understand how it works and how to get the results you want.

Car leasing is a little different than buying a car with a loan. The language is different, the process is different, and the way that payments are calculated is different. Let’s take a look at how you would use an online lease vs buy calculator to better understand the differences. Read more

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Negotiating Used Car Prices

How do I know what price to pay for a car?

Let’s say you see a nice used car that you like on a dealer’s lot that is priced at $14,000. Is it a good price? Can I talk the dealer down to, say, $12,000? How much discount can I expect to get?

These are all common questions when shopping for used cars, especially if it’s your first car.

Let’s look at the answers.

Used car prices can vary greatly – even for the same make, model, year, and condition. Prices tend to follow the laws of supply and demand. Large gas-guzzling SUVs are cheaper in times of high gas prices. Convertibles are more expensive in sunny Florida than in cold North Dakota. Used car prices are cheaper when dealers have too many on their lots.

Dealers are experts at knowing local car-buying customers, what they want, and what they are willing to pay. They set their used car prices accordingly. However, dealers make more profit on used cars than on brand new cars. This means there is a lot of “wiggle room” in used car prices – a relatively large difference between what the dealer has invested in his cars and the prices he sets for those cars. Unfortunately, there is no way for us as consumers to know what a dealer has paid for his used cars.

Check prices to know what is fair

The first step to getting a fair price on a used car is to find out how much the car is worth. Is the dealer’s asking price fair or not? If not, then it is time for some negotiation.

Some newcomers to car buying assume that there is some kind of “standard” price for used cars. It is not true. However, there are used-car pricing guides, such as Kelley Blue Book and NADA Guides, that compile data from a variety of sources to publish their version of suggested prices, based on make, model, year, equipment, mileage, condition, and region of the country.

These guides often differ significantly in prices for the same vehicle, same mileage, same everything. Confused car buyers often ask, “Which is right?” or “Which is more accurate?”  Neither is more right or more accurate. However, the guides serve as a good benchmark for determining a fair price for a car you may be considering to buy. For example, if a dealer is asking $14,000 for a car that the guides show as only being worth $10,000, he’s asking too much and it’s time to negotiate a fairer price.

If you don’t check prices

We’ve seen questions from car buyers who ask something like, “How much can I talk a dealer down on this $14,000 car?”  The answer to the question is really another question. It is not so much how much you can talk him down, as it is how much is the car worth?

For example, a dealer may put a $14,000 price on a car that is worth only $10,000. He hopes that he’ll get a customer who hasn’t done her price research and who will “talk him down” to $12,000. The customer is happy because she thinks she got a $2000 price discount, and the dealer is happy because he sold the car for $2000 more than it was worth.

Asking prices are not selling prices

Nearly all used cars are sold for a price that is less than the original “asking” price. Dealers post asking prices on used car window stickers. Individuals selling used cars advertise them with asking prices. Dealer asking prices may be 20% or more higher than selling prices. Individuals usually price their cars about 10% higher than the price they are willing to accept.

Negotiate based on car’s condition

If you find a car you like and the price seems fair for a car in good to excellent condition, make sure you get a mechanic’s inspection and have the mechanic document any problems he finds. Assuming the problems are not serious enough to stop you from buying the car, use the mechanic’s report to negotiate for a lower price.

Also get a Carfax vehicle history report and do the same thing. If the car has been in an accident, even if the repairs have been done expertly, use the information to try to get a better price.

Where to buy

Used-car dealers are an obvious source of  used cars but it takes time to visit and find out which ones have cars you might be interested in. One way to save time is use an online site such as UsedCars.com that lets you search for discounted cars from dealers in your area.

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Deciding on Your First Car

Your First Car – Making Your Decision

first carMost of us get our first car as teenagers. It’s the car we’ll always remember.

Let’s take a look at some of the important questions you’ll want to consider when deciding about what you’ll buy as your first car, how you’ll pay for it, and how to go about the purchase.

How much can you spend?

If cost is not important and you can choose practically any car you want, we’ll get to you later. However, most teens have restrictions on how much they can spend. It might be that parents are buying and have set a price limit, or that you have your own budget and limited income.

Since most teens start driving before they become of legal age to sign a car loan contract, it’s typical to pay cash for their first car. The cash can come from savings, gifts from relatives, or a loan from parents — or a combination. Usually, it’s not enough money for a brand new car, but possibly sufficient for a good used car.

The amount of money you have to spend on your first car will directly affect your choices. Lots of money, lots of choices. Little money, fewer choices. In general, the more money you spend, the better the car — better condition, better mileage, better performance, better safety, and better reliability.

Read more

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How Does a Car Loan Work?

There are essentially two ways to buy a car. You can pay cash, or if you don’t have the necessary cash, you can get a loan. Actually there’s another way — leasing — that we won’t discuss here, but is discussed in a number of other articles on this web site.

When you get a loan, you are borrowing money from a bank, credit union, or finance company and promising to repay that money, with interest, over a specified period of time. You use that money to pay the dealer for your car. Although car buyers can arrange their own car loans with local banks or credit unions, many choose to let their car dealer arrange the loan for them.  Dealers don’t provide loans themselves but work with banks or finance companies on customers’ behalf.

So if you buy a brand new Ford, and need a loan, the Ford dealer will send our loan application to Ford Credit Corporation, who will provide the loan (assuming you are approved). Ford Credit pays the dealer for the car and begins sending you bills for each monthly payment. From now on, until the loan has been paid off, you will be dealing with Ford Credit, not the car dealer. It often takes a few days for the approval to come through.

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Car Buying Checklist – 50-Point Self-Inspection Guide

checkmarkUsed Car Inspection Checklist

Use this 50-point checklist when buying a used car
Print it and take it with you as you shop

 

Wheels and Tires

chkboxAre tires worn to unsafe level (less than 2/32″ tread depth at lowest point)?

Tires with less than 2/32″ tread depth at lowest point are unsafe and should be replaced immediately. Less than 4/32″ is unsafe in rain. Less than 6/32″ is unsafe in snow. Hint: Buy a cheap ($5) tire tread-depth gauge at any auto parts store, Wal-Mart, or Sears

chkboxAre left/right tires worn unevenly on front? On rear?

Unevenly worn left and right tires are unsafe and cause handling and steering problems. It might indicate a bent or twisted frame as a result of an accident. Always replace tires in pairs

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Zero Down Car Lease

zero down car leaseLeasing can provide an affordable option to anyone needing car financing at minimum monthly cost. Upfront cost can also be minimized by paying no money down — $0 down payment.

Lease payments are 60% – 110% lower than loan payments for the same car. And most leases can be obtained with zero money down— $0 down.

So what’s the catch?

First, leasing is a bit more complicated than buying a car with a loan. If you don’t understand how leasing works, or how to determine if it’s right for you, you should skip it until you take the time to learn about leasing — from LeaseGuide.com.

Second, in order to get a zero down car lease, you need a good credit score. In fact, you may need a better score than you would need if you were buying with a loan. You should always know your current credit score before going car shopping. Actually you have three scores, from the three major credit bureaus, all of which will be a little different. Furthermore, you can’t know which of the three your car dealer and finance company will use to check your credit. Therefore, it’s recommended that you know all three ahead of time. You can get your credit scores with a free 7-day trial enrollment in CreditReport.com.

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Used Car Values

used car valuesOne of the most frustrating things about buying a used car is knowing not how much it’s worth — its value — a fair price to pay.

Two cars of the same year, make, model, condition, and mileage can have two very different values, depending on who is making the valuation. Even the same car can have different values, again depending on who you ask.

Companies such as Kelley Blue Book (kbb.com) and Nadaguides (nadaguides.com) make it their business to publish used car value guides, where their values are based on a number of variables such as auction prices, mileage, condition, optional equipment, market supply and demand, regional differences, and past price history. With all their expertise and experience, the values they produce are nothing more than educated estimates. One company’s analysis of the data will nearly always produce a different result than another’s.

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Used Car Dealers

used car dealersThere essentially five kinds of used car dealers from which you might buy. There are advantages and disadvantages to each type. Let’s take a closer look now.

Large Chain Used Car Dealers

Carmax is the best known of all the large used car dealer chains. They have stores all around the U.S. and typically have hundreds of high-quality vehicles to choose from. They have a no-haggle price policy, which means the buying process is easy and stress-free, although you may pay a little higher price than you might elsewhere. But for the price, you get a good car that has been inspected, comes with a warranty, and a return policy — all things that you won’t get elsewhere.

Some Carmax locations also sell brand new cars of a particular brand.

There are other large chain dealers such as AutoNation that are similar to Carmax.

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What is the Best Car?

best car Honda CivicWe see this question being asked frequently: “What is the best car to buy?”

Of course, the real answer as to what is the best car can vary, depending on your own personal needs, preferences, and finances. Some people place a great deal of importance on reliability. Others might think safety or cost is more important. And others might feel that the best car should have great looks and high performance.

Many people believe that to get the best car, you must spend a lot of money — that the best cars are the most expensive one. Strangely, this is just not true. Actually, some of the best cars are the least expensive — and some of the most expensive cars are the least reliable and the least efficient.

One of the best automobiles, overall, is the Honda Civic. Why? Because it has the most perfect combination of all the factors that most car buyers look for — cost, fuel efficiency, reliability, cost of operation, cost of insurance, style, performance, resale value, riding comfort, luxury features, and handling.

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How to Find a Good Cheap Reliable Car

We hear the question all the time, “Where can I find a good cheap reliable car?”

The people who ask this question obviously have limited funds but are looking for the best car that can be purchased with the least amount of money. Unfortunately, finding a car that’s inexpensive AND good AND reliable can be very difficult. Although not impossible, it’ll take a lot of looking, test driving, and inspecting before the right car is found, at the right price.

Cars with prices in the $1000-$3000 price range (cheap) will nearly always be cars that are at least 10-15 years old, with lots of miles, considerable wear-and-tear, and may have been damaged at some time in its life. Again, this doesn’t necessarily make them bad cars, but it’ll take some effort to prove otherwise.

We also often see questions about which vehicles are the most reliable. Although some vehicle brands such as Honda and Toyota have exhibited outstanding reliability over many years, it doesn’t mean that every Honda and Toyota is reliable, especially those with lots of miles, accident damage, and those that have been driven hard and maintained poorly. It’s not wise to assume that an old Honda or Toyota, or any other brand, is going to be a good (or bad) buy based on the brand’s reliability reputation.

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Do I Need A Co-Signer?

Who needs a co-signer for a car loan? How does it work?

need a co-signer for car loanNew or first-time car buyers are often surprised at being turned down for a car loan because they have no credit history, which unfortunately has about the same effect as having bad credit. Getting a co-signer might be the answer.

Lenders want to see that a borrower has a good record with previous loans and credit cards. Without a history of credit, a borrower represents a risk to lenders. If they don’t know a borrower’s history, they take the low road and assume the worst.

It’s a familiar “catch-22″ situation in that you can’t get a loan to establish credit without already having credit. So what is the answer?

What is the answer?

The most common solution is to have someone “co-sign” your loan contract. Typically, it’s family member who has a good credit score. A co-signer plays no part in the loan unless the primary borrower fails to make payments. In that case, the loan company would have the right to seek payment from the co-signer.

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Car Loan – In Plain Language

car loan explainedYou, the car buyer, wish to purchase a car but you don’t have the necessary cash.

You need a car loan.

A bank or credit union can provide you the loan you need, or your car dealer can arrange the loan for you with a bank or finance company that he works with. Understand that dealers generally don’t make loans nor approve them.

The bank or finance company explains the loan to you in this way:

“We are willing to loan you our money to pay the dealer for your new car, assuming we check your credit history and find that there is not a risk that you won’t pay us back our money. If you have no credit history or your credit is poor, we may decide to turn you down. We might also turn you down if you do not have a steady source of income that will allow you to repay the loan. If you can get a co-signer with good credit and a good income who is willing to sign with you, we may reconsider”.

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How Do Car Notes Work?

car leaseCar notes, or car loan payments, are the monthly payments made after a car is purchased with a loan from a bank, credit union, or finance company. Some dealers provide financing directly, in which case car notes are made directly to the dealer, but in most cases dealers simply arrange financing with a bank or finance company that he partners with. In that case, car note payments are made to the bank or finance company.

Car buyers who need a loan can apply at a bank or credit union prior to looking for a car. In this way, they can be pre-approved and will know exactly how much they can borrow and what their loan finance rate (interest rate) will be. When they finally decide on a car and are buying from a dealer, they can compare the dealer’s financing with the bank’s financing and go with the best deal.

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Cars for Teens – Top 10 Questions

We have been an expert participant on the Yahoo! Answers web site for many years, particularly in the Cars and Transportation section, Buying & Selling sub-section. We answer questions and provide advice about a wide variety of topics related to automobile buying, selling, insurance, maintenance, and car brands.

Although the Answers site is open to anyone, we have found that most visitors and questioners are teenagers and young adults who have had little or no experience in buying, selling, or owning cars. Their questions are natural and appropriate for someone who is doing some of these things for the first time.

The web site is quite popular and is very active. Thousands of questions are asked — and answered — each day. However, in our years of participation we have seen many of the same questions being asked over and over — and over — and over again.

We have compiled what we think are the top 10 questions that teens and young adults want to know about cars. Here they are.

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How Do I Sell a Car That I Am Still Making Payments On?

sell car still making paymentsIs it possible to sell a car if you are still making loan payments and the loan is not yet paid off?

This is a very common question with car buyers and owners.

The answer is yes, you can sell the car, but you must get enough money in the sale to pay off your loan, so that your bank can give you a “clear” title to give to the new buyer. This is where problems often arise. Let’s see how.

If you are upside down

If you are still paying on your loan, you still have an outstanding balance, which might be more than your car is actually worth. This means you are “upside down” and would need additional cash, after the sale, to fully pay off your loan. Loan companies want to be paid in full immediately after the sale. They won’t allow you to continue to make payments on a car you no longer have. Read more

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How to Drive a Manual Transmission Car

stickshiftOne of the questions we see pop up often from young drivers is “How to drive a stick shift (manual transmission) car?”

The question arises for a number of reasons. Some people who are driving for the first time know they’ll be driving a “stick shift” car and are concerned that it might be difficult to learn. Others who have been driving automatic transmissions for years may be looking to buy a manual shift vehicle for the first time.

Manual transmissions (often called “standard transmissions”) were around a long time before automatics. It wasn’t that long ago that most cars had manual shifts although now it’s the other way around.  Manual shift is popular with car enthusiasts who enjoy the feeling of greater control over the operation of their cars. Some car owners feel that a manual is more fuel-efficient and provides better performance, although that’s not necessarily so with today’s much improved automatics.

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Your First Car Guide

Buying a first car, or even a second or third, can be a perplexing and stressful experience. There’s so much to know and understand.

Which is the best first car? Which cars are most reliable? Which is safest? What should I pay for my car? Where is the best place to buy a car?

Where can I find cheap cars? How do I get a car loan?  What if I have no credit, or bad credit? How does the car buying process work? How will I know if I’m being cheated?

What about auto insurance? Which company has the best rates?

Should I buy a new car, or used? Buy from dealer or individual seller?

Can I sell/trade my car if I still owe money? How about buying versus leasing?

These are all common questions asked by first car buyers — or any car buyer.

We give you the the answers you need, the expert advice, and the specific knowledge you need so that you can go into your car buying experience with confidence that you’ll make the right decisions, get the best deals, and not get cheated.

Welcome to FirstCarGuide.com

 

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Certified Used Cars – What is the Catch?

Are certified used cars good deals or not for first car buyers?

Many car dealers sell “certified” pre-owned cars. How are these cars different from other used cars? Are they more expensive? Are they worth considering as a first car?

Most major automobile manufacturer’s dealers now offer “certified” used cars. A certified car has been inspected and repaired according to detailed manufacturer specifications before being placed on a dealer’s used car lot. Although manufacturer’s programs vary in details, all are fundamentally the same in concept.

Why is it important? Certified cars can significantly reduce one of the largest worries of used car buyers: that used cars can have hidden problems that cause problems and expensive repairs after the sale.  Read more

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Can I Afford This Car?

How do I know how much car I can afford?

Assuming you’ll buy with a loan, you will want to have a monthly car payment that will fit within your current income, after considering all your other expenses. Don’t make the mistake of buying based on future expectations — a forthcoming raise, a new job, or other potential improvements in your finances. Your expectations might not come to reality and you’ll be stuck with a car you can’t afford. Base your purchase only on current, stable finances. Read more

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How Are Car Payments Calculated?

Figuring car payments is easy if you have the right calculator — it’s not easy math otherwise

car payment calculatorCar payment calculation is not simple math. It requires a rather complex business math formula that is not easily done by hand and most people are not capable, or not willing, to take it on. It’s not as simple as dividing loan amount by the number of months in the loan. Finance charges (interest), which change every month, must be accounted for.

It’s much easier to use a hand-held business calculator, such as the HP 12c or HP 17b, or, even better, use an easy online auto loan calculator which does the math for you.

To use a car loan calculator, you must know the amount being financed, the number of months you want to finance, and the interest rate. You’ll also need to know the down payment amount, if any, and the value of your trade-in vehicle, if any. You also need to know the sales tax rate that applies to your home location, not where you buy your car. Read more

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Why Do I Need Car Insurance?

Is auto insurance really necessary? Why do I need it?

Since car insurance is so expensive, partiularly for teenagers and other young drivers, it’s natural that this question should come up frequently for first time car buyers.

You need insurance on your car to protect you from the risk of disasterous financial problems resulting from accidents,  personal injury and property damage, and loss by theft, fire, or natural disasters. It may seem pointless to spend so much money on something you may never need. But if you ever need it, you’ll be really happy you have it.

It’s tempting to believe that you don’t need insurance because you are a safe driver and will never cause an accident. However, other people can involve you in an accident that is not your fault. If the other driver doesn’t have sufficient car insurance, your own insurance will take over and pay your repair bills and medical expenses.

You might avoid insurance if you had enough money to cover such problems on your own.  This is called “self-insurance.” However, self-insurance is not legally sufficient in most states and is not practical for most people. Read more

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Copyright FirstCarGuide.com 2014. All rights reserved. Author: Al Hearn