For many people, the process of buying a car is highly stressful. And that's understandable. A vehicle is a major purchase, there are a lot of details to consider, and because you'll buy relatively few cars in your life, you don't get a whole lot of practice at it. Those are all good reasons to follow these car-buying tips. The list was compiled by industry experts at AAA, J.D. Power and Associates, and the Better Business Bureau, and published at Forbes.com.
1) The Ambush
Beware of being shuffled among a never-ending team of auto pros. You shouldn't have to talk to the sales guy out on the lot, the sales manager, the finance manager, the floor manager and the used car manager just to buy a car. Pick one to deal with and stick with him or her.
2) The Confiscation
Whatever you do, don't give up the keys to your current vehicle, even if the "used car manager" asks for them to assess the car for its trade-in value, or if the "sales manager" asks for them as collateral while you take a test drive. If negotiations should go amiss, it's impossible to walk out on the deal if you have no way to start your car.
3) The Bum Rush
Salesmen love to hurry you into a deal today. They'll try all kinds of things: On-the-spot delivery, haggling over details, one-time offers. Don't let them pressure and bully you into an impulse buy. Show up knowing what kind of car you need and what you can afford to pay. If they can't provide that, leave.
4) The Buried Bill
Read over final invoices carefully before signing anything, in order to make sure you're not charged for something you didn't request. Alarms, extra cleaning, "prepping," rust-proofing, fabric protection and paint sealant are all common add-ons that sometimes appear on the invoice unknown to the buyer. Hint: Consider doing the VIN (Vehicle Information Number) etching yourself. Dealers charge hundreds of dollars to do it, but a home etching kit costs as little as $20.
5) The Bait and Switch
Dealers may advertise one model in the paper, loaded with extras for a reasonable price, but then have only a lesser model (with less overall value) on the lot when interested parties show up to buy the one they saw in the paper. Best way to avoid this trap: The minute you realize the con, walk away.