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Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Article written by Dan Ellenwood

Car Buying and Lemon Law Tips

Car buying is not a task to be taken lightly. The cost of a new car equals almost what my parents paid for their first home. It's imperative to do behind the scenes research to ensure you get a great deal.

Do not be in a hurry. Car dealers can detect the scent of desperation a mile away! If you are totally without transportation, rent a vehicle until you find the right car. If you rush your purchase, you will usually end up on the bad end of the deal.

You can uncover the typical retail cost of a specific make and model right on the internet. With a little extra research, you can discover the wholesale cost as well. These two pieces of information give you an edge when it comes to negotiation.

It's best to work toward a win-win situation with the car salesperson. They need to make some money on the deal, and you want to pay a fair price. You can often negotiate a price that is $500 above dealer cost, or about 20% off the sticker price. Make sure you take your calculator with you when car hunting.

You can often order a car with *custom* option choices. This could save you hundreds of dollars. You might wait a couple of weeks, but why pay for options that you do not need?

Always check with the dealership to see if you can return the car if you do not like it. Many dealerships now offer this option. Some dealerships will give you a three day trial period in which to try the car.

It is a good idea to wait until the end of the month to go car hunting. Salespersons who want to meet a certain quota will be eager to strike a deal.

Knowing the value of your old car makes it easier to negotiate a better price for it. Try not to talk about a trade-in possibility until you get a purchase price. Sometimes this is difficult, as most salespeople will ask upfront about a trade in.

I took my car to one lot, and was told the trade in value was $1,200. Another dealership said they would give me $3,500 for the same car! So do your research to make sure you receive a fair price on your used vehicle. Stick to your guns when it comes to getting the value of your trade-in, especially if you've had your car serviced regularly.

A service contract will likely be brought into the negotiation. Most consumer information shows no need to buy an extra contract on a new car, as it's not likely a problem will occur during the first months of use.

Whatever you do, always read the fine print of any contract before signing it. Ask questions about what certain phrases mean if and when you do not understand something.

Also, just because a car is brand new doesn't mean you should buy it without asking questions. New cars can land in the lemon category as well as used ones. Keep on your toes during the negotiation process. You will enjoy both getting a new car, AND creating a win-win situation for yourself and the dealer.

And what if you get stuck with a lemon?

By the way, a lemon is usually defined as a vehicle that has a substantial problem which is not fixed after a reasonable number of attempts. What a reasonable number of attempts actually means is up to interpretation. It is usually four or more attempts. Some states have reduced this to two repair attempts where the defect poses a serious safety threat.

Most states have specific lemon laws. It is best to check your particular state's laws and definitions.

The most important thing to remember in any potential lemon situation is to keep detailed records. You need to record somewhere each time you bring your vehicle in for repair, what was done, and the results. Also remember to write down conversations you have with service technicians, both over the phone and in person. Check on the internet and ask your dealer mechanic about any Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs). They are instructions from the manufacturer that alert dealerships to specific defects or necessary repairs in certain models.

If you feel that you have a lemon, it is best to consult with a lawyer who is familiar with your state's laws. Although the lawyer may cost you a bit of money, it may be better than continuing your car payments for the next 48 months. Ask a lawyer for a free consultation to see if your case may qualify for lemon law relief.

Copyright 2005 Daniel Ellenwood
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