Auto Bits: Buying a car? Avoid these wrong turns
Tip of the Week
A few simple steps can help ensure your car buying experience is a great adventure that doesn't turn into a detour to financial disaster. Here are some common wrong turns and how to avoid them:
1. Failing to check your credit before going to the dealership. Unless you're paying cash, you'll be financing your vehicle purchase. You need to know what's on your credit report and how strong your credit score is before you apply for financing. This will give you an idea of what loan terms you might qualify for. Websites like www.creditreport.com can help you understand your credit.
2. Not having financing lined up before you shop. Once you have a handle on your credit, it's important to explore your financing options before you ever set foot on a car lot. Yes, virtually every dealer can help you with financing, but there's no guarantee they will be able to offer you the best terms. You may be able to qualify for a lower interest rate through your bank. Having checked a couple financing options before you shop ensures you know exactly how much you can spend, and gives you more bargaining power at the dealership.
3. Not knowing what the actual price of the car should be. There's the price the dealer puts on the car - the sticker price - and then there's the price you should actually pay. Most automotive experts agree, you should start your negotiations based on the invoice price, which is what the dealer paid for the vehicle, and pay only a few percentage points over that price. Fortunately, online resources like Edmunds.com and KBB.com can help provide an idea of what you can expect to pay for any vehicle you're thinking of purchasing.
4. Looking at the monthly payment rather than the actual price. When you're car shopping, it's easy to take the wrong turn and focus on how the monthly payment fits into your budget. But that doesn't give you an accurate picture of the true price of the car you're financing. You may think you're getting a good deal on the sale price, but if you're paying thousands in interest over the life of the loan, that deal may not be as good as you think. For example, if you finance a $25,000 vehicle with no money down and no trade at 7.5 percent interest over six years, you'll pay nearly $6,200 in interest, according to onlinecalculator.org. That means you haven't bought a $25,000 car, you've bought one that actually costs you more than $31,500.
According to Forbes, here are the most affordable cities in which to buy used cars:
- Miami, Fla.
- Rochester, N.Y.
- Stamford, Conn.
- Akron, Ohio
- Buffalo, N.Y.
- Toledo, Ohio
- New York City
Q: I own a 1997 V-6 Camry. My problem is when the temperature goes below 30 degrees the brake pedal is hard to push down until the engine runs 30-45 minutes.
A: There is no question that water is collecting and freezing up. The most common problem I have found is a leaking power brake booster. A leaking vacuum brake booster will actually suck runoff water in a rainstorm and will freeze in below-freezing temperatures. A leaking brake booster can also be a cause of lean engine fault codes. An easy way to check to verify the booster is leaking is pour water around the booster and listen for any sound change. The second way is start the engine, shut the engine off, press the brake pedal and see if the brake pedal is hard to push the first and second time. A normal brake booster will vacuum and enable the brake pedal to be easy to push one or two times. If the pedal is hard the first push, you need to check both the brake booster and rubber vacuum seal. Price check around for a remanufactured brake booster. There is a big difference between rebuilt and new.
- Junior Damato, Talking Cars columnist
GateHouse News Service