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Cheapest Car Leases – $199 or Less in 2017

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:

Continue reading Cheapest Car Leases – $199 or Less in 2017

Your First Car – What’s Important?

buy first carBuying a car for the first time can be an overwhelming experience.

There’s so much to know and how to know what’s important.

With this article, we’ll take some of the mystery away from the car buying process.

We’ll focus on the car itself in this article because we’ve already covered topics such as new versus used, financing, loans, best first cars, and more. Many new car buyers don’t completely understand how things like engine power, miles per gallon, safety equipment, and reliability factor into making decisions about what to buy. Incredibly, some novice buyers put more importance on color as a decision factor than almost everything else.

When buying a car, the old adage that “you get what you pay for” usually applies. A less expensive car will more than likely have lower engine power, fewer safety features, and lower reliability than cars that cost more. But how important are those things?

Continue reading Your First Car – What’s Important?

Check Your Used Car Before You Buy

buy used carThere’s nothing worse than spending your hard-earned money for the perfect used car and finding out after the sale that it has serious problems that are going to cost a fortune to repair.

It’s even more disappointing when you discover that used cars are sold “as-is”, which means that you have no legal grounds to return the car to the seller and get your money back, even if the seller lied to you about the car’s condition. Even if you suspect the seller of outright fraud, you have to prove it in court, which is often impossible to do. Sellers can easily claim they knew nothing about the problems, which in many cases might be true.

Used car dealers rarely inspect the cars they sell. Even though the salesman might tell you a car “has no problems”, he may have no idea. The only exception is in the case of “certified” used cars that have been inspected and come with a short warranty.

The lesson to be learned here is that when buying any used car, especially those with high mileage, you should always have the vehicle inspected by a professional mechanic before you buy. An inspection might cost you $75-$125 but if it detects serious problems, it could easily save you from suffering a multi-thousand dollar mistake. It’s a good and wise investment.

Continue reading Check Your Used Car Before You Buy

Most Reliable Car?

most reliable car brandOne of the most frequent questions we hear from people who are buying a car is, “What is the most reliable car?” Or “What is the best new car?”

Obviously, these people are interested in getting the best, most dependable car for their money. They also realize that all car brands are not the same in terms of quality and reliability.

Fortunately for us as automotive consumers, Consumer Reports magazine puts out several car-related issues each year in which it publishes the results of vehicle reliability studies conducted with actual owners. The results are also posted on the company’s web site, which requires a subscription to view all the details.

In this years latest results, the Audi company came out on top . Subaru was ranked second, followed by  Lexus, Porsche, and BMW for the top five spots

Toyota, which has ranked in the top five in years past has slipped to the #8 position this year.  And Honda has fallen to the #10 spot.

Continue reading Most Reliable Car?

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

Craigslist Car Scam

Car buyers are being cheated every day by a common scam that is usually associated with Craigslist, as well as other online car-for-sale web sites.

Craigslist even posts warnings on their site about it but many buyers are so focused on the “deal of a lifetime” they’ve found that they don’t read the warnings.

It all starts with a car-for-sale ad that seems almost too good to be true (you know what they say about these kinds of deals). There is a beautiful picture and an alluring description of the car, even a VIN number, and a price is that seems unusually low. Except for maybe the low price, there is nothing about the ad that suggests a scam. The ad looks like any other ad, even the legitimate ones.

You won’t find anything to indicate a scam until you contact the “seller” via email. That’s when suspicious details come out.

Continue reading Craigslist Car Scam

Lease Deal Calculator

lease deal calculatorIf you’re looking to lease a car and find a great deal, is it really a great deal?

Actually, it’s not easy to tell by simply looking at the numbers.

Sure, the payment seems low, especially when compared to a loan payment for the same car, but is the payment higher than it should be? Has the dealer made a mistake in his math or is he cheating you? Is the dealer basing the lease on a vehicle price that is too high — higher than sticker price? Is he charging too much interest (lease money factor)? Has he set the lease-end residual value too low?

All these factors contribute to the calculation of monthly lease payment amount. If any one of them is set too high (or too low in the case of residual value), it’s not a good deal. (If you are not familiar with how car lease payments are calculated, see Lease Payment Formula, at LeaseGuide.com.)

Continue reading Lease Deal Calculator

Lease a Luxury Car

Luxury car lease dealsLuxury cars have always had the highest lease rate among all vehicle types. Currently about 70% of all new luxury cars are leased, rather than purchased.

Why is that, you might ask?

There are essentially two kinds of luxury car leasing customers: 1) those who are wealthy and can afford to pay cash or could make large monthly loan payments, and 2) those that can’t but want to drive a better car than they could otherwise afford.

Customers of the first type, those who can afford cash or loan payments, usually have multiple vehicles, like to drive new cars every 3-4 years, don’t drive an excessive number of miles, and prefer to use their cash for more productive purposes, such as for investments. Leasing provides a good solution for them.

Customers of the second type typically lease as a way of being able to drive a much better car than they could drive with a loan. Since lease payments are approximately 50% of comparable loan payments, they can drive twice as much car for the same monthly cost. However, many of these people are so enamoured with the low payments that they overlook leasing’s restrictions, or simply don’t know how leasing works. They may drive too many miles and have to pay for the extra miles at lease-end, or pay for unrepaired damages. Or they sometimes want to end their lease early, not realizing that it can be very expensive.  Leasing is simply not right for everyone.

Continue reading Lease a Luxury Car

How to Buy a Used Car

buy used carUsed cars are for sale everywhere but many people find it difficult to find just the right car for the right price.  It can be frustrating and even overwhelming.

First-time buyers, in particular, often have difficulty with the various stages of the process: buying, pricing, negotiating, applying for loans, registering, and getting insurance.

What seems at first glance to be simple turns out to be series of not-so-simple steps.  Buying a car is not at all like buying a TV at Walmart.

The most common concerns when buying a used car are the following:

  • Where to find cars for sale
  • How to know if a car is reliable and in good condition
  • How many miles is too many
  • How to know what to pay
  • Should I pay cash
  • Where can I get a car loan
  • How to know what to look for and avoid mistakes

These are the questions we’ll answer here.

Where to find cars

Used cars can be found on the Internet, in used car lots, and for sale by individual sellers. There are small used car dealers, large used car dealers (such as Carmax), new-car dealers who also sell used cars, and barely legal buy-here-pay-here dealers than cater to people with credit problems.

On the Internet, look at Craigslist, Autotrader, eBay Motors, UsedCars.com, and Carmax.com, among others. When looking at online sites that advertise cars being sold by private parties (not dealers), watch out for a common scam in which the car has a very low price, the “seller” is not in the same location as his car, only communicates via email, promises to ship the car to buyers, and says the buyer’s money is “protected” by eBay, Amazon, PayPal or some other service. It’s a good and safe idea to always buy cars that you can see, drive, and test before buying.

Continue reading How to Buy a Used Car

Best Prices on New Cars – The Best Way

best car pricesOne of the best ways to get the best prices on new cars is to take advantage of monthly sales incentives such as rebates, bonus discounts, and special leases sponsored by car manufacturers through dealers (see Best Car Deals for details).

These special deals are almost always good deals, much better than customers could negotiate for themselves.

However, the catch is that those incentives are only good on selected vehicle models and styles, and only for a limited time.  If the particular brand, model, and style that you want is not one of those with incentives offers this month, you are back to square one — negotiating for deals the old fashion way.

A new company has come along that changes all that, and may change how we buy cars in the future.

TrueCar answers the question, “What should I pay for my car?” Even if you are a shrewd negotiator, you have to know your target price — a reasonable offer based on real information. You also would benefit by knowing what other people are paying for the same car, same model, same style that you want. With that knowledge, you will know the price you should be aiming at.

Continue reading Best Prices on New Cars – The Best Way

How Does a Car Trade-In Work?

What is the car trade-in process? Do I lose money by trading?

Here is how a car trade works.

Car dealers buy your old car from you and give you credit toward the price of a new car. The trade-in credit is like a down payment and reduces the price of your new car, making your monthly payments smaller.

The dealer then puts your old car on his used-car lot to sell, or he sends it to a dealer car auction where another dealer will buy it to put on his own used-car lot.

Contrary to some belief, dealers don’t simply “trade” or swap one car for another. It’s two separate transactions rolled into one contract.

Dealers make a lot of profit on selling used cars they’ve taken as trade-in. They pay the trading customer a low wholesale price, and sell the car for a higher retail price. That’s how they make their money and stay in business. Continue reading How Does a Car Trade-In Work?

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.

Continue reading Do I Need A Co-Signer?

Do I Need a Down Payment on a Car?

How much down payment do I need for my car loan?

how much down payment on car loanUntil recent times, it was standard for car dealers and finance companies to require at least 20% down payment on the purchase of a car. It was for a good reason.

Because cars depreciate in value from the moment they are driven off a dealer’s lot, a down payment helps offset that rapid decrease in value, which may keep the loan from becoming “upside down.”  It also protects the loan company or bank because, if they have to repossess the vehicle, they have a smaller risk of losing money. It also protects the car buyer from financial loss if the car is stolen or totaled and the insurance money isn’t sufficient to cover the loan.

Things are different now
Auto manufacturers and dealers are now very competitive and business must be fought for. They are willing to take risks that were unheard of just a few years ago. In many cases, down payment requirements have been reduced or eliminated altogether, primarily for customers with good credit. Continue reading Do I Need a Down Payment on a Car?

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. Continue reading How Much Should I Pay for a Car?

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.

Continue reading Used Car Dealers

Cheap Cars – Where to Find Cheap Cars

Cheap cars can be found in many places — if you know where to look. Following are just some of the places you might find cheap cars:

Independent Used-Car Dealers – Independent used-car lots are a potential source of affordable cheap second hand cars. Many lots have older vehicles that can be real bargains, but might require a little work. You should take care to determine if the price is fair and that the vehicle has no hidden problems. Most used cars are sold “as-is” and come without any kind of warranty or return policy. Check out local used-car lots in your area but also consider large national or regional used-car dealers such as CarMax.

New-Car Dealer Used Car Lots – Many new-car dealers also sell pre-owned cars. Most new-car dealers only offer relatively late model used vehicles that have been taken in trade or are off-lease, and are in good condition — and are relatively expensive. But bargains can be found. Therefore, it doesn’t hurt to check out local new-car dealers but also look at other sources listed below. Some new-car dealers sell “certified” used cars — at a higher price. These cars have been inspected thoroughly and come with a short guarantee.

Buy-Here-Pay-Here (BHPH) Dealers – BHPH dealers are a different kind of used-car dealer that provides in-house financing, usually with no credit check, to people who are unable to get a conventional car loan. Most BHPH dealers are local and can be recognized by their “we finance anyone” or “no credit check” banners. Be aware that interest rates are usually very high and payment terms are strict. See “Should I Buy From a Buy-Here-Pay-Dealer Car Dealer” for more details.

Continue reading Cheap Cars – Where to Find Cheap Cars

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 your parents are buying and have set a price limit, or that you have your own budget and a 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.

Continue reading Deciding on Your First Car

I Only Have $3000. What Car Should I Buy?

This is the kind of question we see posted on question-and-answer web sites every day. The details might vary but the basic question is always the same.

The askers of the question seem to understand that $3000 (or $1000, or $2500) is not a lot of money for a car and they are asking how to best spend it.

For a car to be priced in the $3000 range, there are a number of potential issues that buyers should be aware of:

1) The car would ordinarily be a $5000 car, but it has problems that will require at least $2000 to fix.

2) The car is fairly priced at $3000 because it is old and has high mileage, which doesn’t mean it’s a bad car, but it has a high potential for having problems.

3) The car is only worth $2000 because it definitely has problems, but the seller is hoping potential buyers won’t notice until after the sale when it’s too late.

Continue reading I Only Have $3000. What Car Should I Buy?

First Cars and Safe Driving

teen car safetyFirst-time car buyers are often first-time drivers as well. Many are teens buying their first car after gaining full driving privileges. Others are young adults who’ve never needed a car before, and never learned to drive until recently.

In each case, these people have followed the licensing requirements in their state and had the help of family, friends, or driving schools to get actual on-road driving experience. Finally, they took the required state tests and received their precious driver’s license.

Unfortunately, passing a driving test doesn’t mean that the state has certified a driver to be a safe driver. It simply means the driver knows fundamental traffic rules, can identify signs, knows laws of the road, and can handle basic driving skills. A new driver has only about 10% of the skills and experience he needs to be a safe competent driver.

Continue reading First Cars and Safe Driving

What Costs and Fees When Buying a Car?

car costs taxes and feesWhen you buy a car, there’s the actual price of the car of course, but there are always other costs and fees involved.

Some fees are required, some are not. Some are car company fees, some are dealer-added fees and charges. And some are official fees and taxes required by the state, county, or city where you live.

These additional car buying costs and fees can be different depending on whether you buy used or new. Charges can also vary by car company, type of vehicle, dealership, and your location.

Let’s take a closer look.

Continue reading What Costs and Fees When Buying a Car?