Tips for buying a new car

A new car is second only to a home as the most expensive purchase many consumers make. According to the National Automobile Dealers Association, the average price of a new car sold in the United States in 2003 was $27,550. That’s why it’s important to know how to make a smart deal.

Think about the car model and options you want and how much you’re willing to spend. Do some research. You’ll be less likely to feel pressured into making a hasty or expensive decision at the showroom and more likely to get a better deal.

Consider these suggestions:

  • Check publications that discuss new car features and prices at a library, bookstore or on the Internet. These may provide information on the dealer’s costs for specific models and options.
  • Shop around to get the best possible price by comparing models and prices in ads and at dealer showrooms. You also may want to contact car-buying services and broker-buying services to make comparisons.
  • Plan to negotiate on price. Dealers may be willing to bargain on their profit margin, often between 10 and 20 percent. Usually, this is the difference between the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) and the invoice price less dealer incentives from the manufacturer.
  • Consider ordering your new car if you don’t see what you want on the dealer’s lot. This may involve a delay, but cars on the lot may have options you don’t want, and that can raise the price. However, dealers often want to sell their current inventory quickly, so you may be able to negotiate a good deal if an in-stock car meets your needs.

This information is adapted from "Buying a New Car" published by the Federal Trade Commission.

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