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Looking to buy a car? Four things to keep in mind

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Buying a car can be overwhelming. There are many things to consider, including your budget, your needs and preferences, and the inventory available at the time. And you see car ads when searching online, when watching TV, while reading the newspaper or listening to the radio. So how do you know those offers are the real deal?

Here are four things to keep in mind when you’re considering an offer in a car ad:

  1. The fine print is important. Read the entire ad. The small print shouldn’t contradict the big print.
  2. Compare offers from multiple dealers. If you don’t understand what an ad is offering, you can look for an offer from another dealer.
  3. Speak Spanish? All of the ad should be in the same language. A company should give you all the important information in the same language, so you can understand the entire offer. Be skeptical if the ad you see is in Spanish, but parts of it are in English. The FTC recently announced a case against a dealership that advertised attractive terms in Spanish, but had other important information in English.
  4. Asking questions is important. When you visit the dealer, you should ask many questions. If you decide to buy, be clear on the terms you’re agreeing to before signing anything.

When you see a car ad, keep a critical eye. If the ad offers, for example, low monthly payments or 0% rates, and if the fine print at the bottom of the ad contradicts the offers in large print on the same ad, the ad may not be telling the whole story.

To find the best car deal, it’s a good idea to shop around and compare offers from different dealers. Also, consider various financing sources like banks or credit unions. Learn more about buying and owning a car at

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit


Thank you

Grateful for your message about buying a car. No one could ever ask enough questions for sure.

I do not think that assumption is correct.I am 85 yrs old and have been a driving teacher and inspector for the registry of motor vehicles. Not only have the inspectors been dishonest by selling licenses and not giving a proper test but the written test is so simple that any moron can pass it.That is why Ma. has the worst drivers in the world and not only that every dealer I have ever met always gives information different from large and small print.I see three out of five people do not know how to drive.During the big blizzard one lane was tied up for ten miles on a one lane major highway because the driver did not know how to shift down the get the wheels in the rear to turn slower with more torque.Even now I see drivers with no lights on in the dark. When I question them they have no idea that it is dark!Licenses here are given away like candy because money money is needed in Taxachusetts. Even in the summer of 1957 when I was a driving instructor the manual transmission separated the men from the boys.The automatic was developed for people without coordination. In my opinion only manual transmissions should be used now because many physicians are prescribing drugs that affect the central nervous system which means reaction time is slowed by at least half. Every policeman I have ever questioned did not know that 30ph is 44 feet per second and 60 mph is 88 fps!Read and weep. Sincerely, an Electro-mechanical engineer for 40 yrs.

Interesting info. I agree many people are terrible drivers, people are too lazy and impatient to learn more. Maybe the new cars that think for the driver will help, if it also had a governor on it and could some how train stupid drivers to use their turn signals.
But could you explain more on the topic of why manual drive would help in the matter of slower reaction times? Thanks.

You do not talk about much here. As a lawyer tell us some questions to ask during the negotiation processes.Is Lawful to pay the high dealer fees? Is it lawful for car dealers to mark up the GAP?

There is more information available if you click on the link in this blog post. 

Click on the words highlighted in blue in Point #4. That will take you to a list of questions to ask.

I never buy new cars. They greatly depreciate the second you drive them off the lot!!!

What do you do when you have turned a car back into the dealer by your free will and they are still harassing you about a balance they say I still owe them after them selling the car.

You may want to write a letter to the dealer explaining what you want them to do. You could contact your city or county consumer protection agency or your state Attorney General's office. This FTC article has other ideas for solving consumer problems.

Hello Laurene, From past experience what usually happens is when you have a vehicle repossessed or you give it up willingly doesn't matter when they auction off the car however much they get is deducted from the amount of your contract and you owe the balance if for some reason they get more they owe you the balance you may want to read the fine print in your contract but this is the general rule of thumb.

I purchased a vehicle on 11/1/17 & on 11/29/17 the dealership sends me a text that they were able to get the interest rate down so they need me to go in & sign a new contract. After looking at the new contract the interest rate is the same. The salesman lied & there has been lie after lie. I have been researching whether this happens regularly especially to first time buyers like me. Now the dealership is threatening to call the police & report it as unauthorized use of a motor vehicle if I don’t go sign the new contract. Is this legal can they take my car after I signed & have the original contract? I did everything right on my part & I feel I am being scammed or something. I am so scared!! Please someone help.

You should have a copy of the papers you signed at the dealership about the car sale and financing. Look at the papers and find out if the deal was final when you left the dealership. You could call a consumer protection agency in your city or county, or your state Attorney General's office to report your experience.

There is something called "yo-yo financing" that happens when a dealer pressures a buyer who already has a contract into accepting a different deal. If you believe you signed a final deal, and you're being pressured to change the deal, you can report that to the FTC at

I walked out with a new Honda on Dec 8th, and, less than 12 hours later, embarked on our family's annual holiday road trip. Southern CA to Dallas to Savannah to Annapolis to South Dakota to Oregon then back home.

It was only then that I found a (non certified) letter from the dealership, purporting to exercise a rescission clause. The letter is now postdated by over 10 days — but, as it's not certified, it may not actually exist in the current astral plane. (:

Long story made short: My 3-week-old car already has close to 10,000 miles on it. If I'm not having hallucinations, and this rescission letter really DOES exist... I can just return it to the dealership, with 10,000 extra miles, and get a full refund of everything I paid? Hell yeah!

Might they even ... re-sell the car to me, for a couple thou less than I paid for it, but still way, way more than they'd get afor it from anyone else? Oohh that would be sweet justice.

Same thing just happened to me however, my interest went up 1/2 a point. Did some “investigating” and, sure enough, I have to pay it. Two words: spot delivery. Google yo-yo scam also.

V Lee is correct . NEVER buy a new car , even if they offer you what looks like a great deal . Your NEW car becomes an USED car the moment you drive off the dealership. Buy a same year , or better yet , prior year used car with low mileage, under 10,000 is ok. You still have the manufacturer's warranty active, also delaership may have it CERTIFIED for 100,000 miles ( I always buy those) ... Leveraging your negotiating power tip: do your homework and have the right number in mind..visit the dealership on the first day of the last week of the month ..lay down your terms and be prepared to walk out ..don't fall in love with your car...they don't meet your number , walk out ..midweek call; the dealer rep and again, lay down your number and say that you're shopping around with other dealership(s) ..If still no , just tell them ,OK , maybe next year..guarantee you they will call you back the last day of the month and accept your offer...sales rep needs to hit s/he's quota for the month as well as the're in command !!!

I brought a car and had lit switch. To a low mileage older car. I stop payment the stolen car. But had my liscense revoke and order to report court. Police said the offense was speeding. I have yet to get legal representive. Was not happy with the newer soon as i gave it gas.i felt happy vibrant.

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