Consumer Reports breaks down the car purchasing essentials
- You may see a whole bunch of incentives to lure you in the door, but often they can't be combined; be prepared to pick between low-interest financing or a rebate, because you won't be getting both.
- Previous-year models may sell for less, but they depreciate at the same rate as the model year, not the year you bought the car; depreciation is more of a concern, too, for brands -- like Pontiac -- that are being phased out, assuming you plan on selling or trading in your car within several years.
- Rebates come from the automaker, not the dealer, so the latter's profit is not in jeopardy. That means you should continue to push for a deal even after working out a rebate.
- If you buy a new car in what remains of 2009 (until Dec. 31), you can deduct state and local motor-vehicle sales and excise taxes from your federal income tax.
- More tax credits exist if you buy a diesel, hybrid or natural-gas model.
- When test-driving a vehicle, make sure to drive a model with the options and trims you would want to buy, so you can get the best idea of what owning the car would be like; also, don't talk price until after the test drive.
- During the negotiating stages, don't give out your Social Security number (even though it's likely you'll be asked for it) or sign anything authorizing a credit check -- these are things that should be done only when necessary (like applying for a loan).
- Don't attend special savings events promoted by direct mail; they're run by outside specialists who, to put it lightly, aren't there to help you save money.
- Many dealers will work out a price over e-mail or the phone; if they try to raise that price once you're at the dealership and have the car in your sights, walk out.
EXPLORE NEW CARS
MORE ON MSN AUTOS
ABOUT EXHAUST NOTES
Cars are cool, and here at MSN Autos we love everything about them, but we also know they're more than simply speed and style: a car is an essential tool, a much-needed accessory to help you get through your day-to-day life. What you drive is also one of the most important investments you can make, so we'll help you navigate your way through the car buying and ownership experiences. We strive to be your daily destination for news, notes, tips and tricks from across the automotive world. So whether it's through original content from our world-class journalists or the latest buzz from the far corners of the Web, Exhaust Notes helps you make sense of your automotive world.
Have a story idea? Tip us off at email@example.com.