Getting started

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Updated: 3/28/2003 1:53 pm
There are numerous preparations you should make before you begin negotiating a deal to buy a car, whether it's new or used. Before you begin to search for the perfect vehicle, decide how much money you can spend and what type of car best suits your needs. It's a good idea to take time to determine exactly what your needs are, as well as how much you'll need to budget. Use your head, as well as your heart. Some consumers purchase a vehicle that ends up being wrong for them, both in size and price. Some factors to initially consider that apply to both new- and used-car purchases include: the intended use of the vehicle; the length of time you plan to keep it; and the size, style, features, and appearance you prefer. You should also determine your budget, including financing options, which must include the operation, maintenance, insurance, and repair costs, in addition to the purchase cost of the vehicle. Research the various models to determine those that are the safest, most reliable, and otherwise suitable for you and your needs. It's a good idea to have more than one choice, in order to increase your bargaining power. You can obtain price lists to compare dealer costs with the prices listed on the window sticker, so you'll know how much bargaining room you have on the basic car and individual options. Buying a car that doesn't fit your family's needs well, uses more gas than you expected, or creates a financial strain may force you to sell or trade the car early and set you up for a possible financial loss, so it's wise to consider these factors up front.

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