1. Get everything in writing: purchase agreement, price, options, trade-in value, finance terms, promises made by seller, warranty terms.
2. Get a copy of everything you sign, at the time you sign it, and do not sign anything that has not been filled out (sales contract, warranty or service agreement, credit life/accident insurance,odometer statement, title, repair receipts, etc.). If there is a later dispute, these documents can be of help in resolving the dispute.
3. Test drive the vehicle and ask the dealer if you can have the vehicle throughly checked out by a mechanic before you buy it; especially if you are buying it "AS-IS," without a warranty. Look the vehicle over closely to be sure everything works. Ask specific questions, such as, has the car ever been wrecked? What is the condition of the brakes, etc?
4. Inspect the seller's title; is the seller the actual owner? Is the mileage information filled out if the seller is a dealer? Does the title have a Salvage, Scrap, Rebuilt, Assembled, Driver's Ed, or other legend printed on it? When was title issued? If it is a recent title, it means someone else recently sold the vehicle to the person trying to sell it you.
5. If you are leasing a vehicle, find out the "selling price" that the lease payment is figured from. This price should include a credit for any down payment and/or trade-in vehicle involved. Ask the dealer to show you how the price was figured and how the monthly payment was arrived at.
6. Do not be rushed into buying. Shop around and compare prices. Do not fall for high pressure "hard sell" tactics. Try not to shop near the dealerships's closing time. If possible, wait a day or two before making your decision. This will give you an opportunity to "cool off." A car cannot be returned like items in a department store. Once you take delivery of the car, it is yours. Deposits placed on vehicle's are not necessarily refundable. Ask the salesperson if yours is. Get the answer in writing.
7. Just as you shop around for a car, you should also shop around for financing and other services. Compare rates offered through banks, credit unions, dealers, etc. If buying from a dealer, does the dealer offer repairs?
8. Credit life and disability insurance are not required by law. Be sure you know what you are buying.
9. If you follow these guidelines, use common sense, and don't rush into your purchase, chances are good that you will get a quality vehicle at a fair price.
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