Moneysaving Help to Buy a Car

The Consumers’ Checkbook, an independent nonprofit consumer group, operates a service used by many thousands of customers each year to get great prices on new cars. You can use the same general approach and get a very good price on your own. What follows is advice that comes out of the experience of this service. You may have had friends tell you about sitting eyeball to eyeball for hours with new car dealers. It’s nonsense. They wasted their time. The only leverage any customer has with a new car dealer is the possibility that he or she will walk out-and either buy a car from another dealer or not buy one at all.

Choosing the car

Most public libraries and major bookstores have extensive information to help you select the type of car that will fit your needs. Three good sources of comparative information on cars, each of which is published annually, are The Car Book by Jack Gillis, Consumer Reports magazine’s April issue, and the December issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine.

Getting a firm price commitment offers their PriceWar service, participating dealers in your area bid to sell you the new car you select and there is no cost for this service. The Consumers’ Checkbook offers a similar service called CarBargains (800-475-7283), which will get at least five dealers in your local area to bid to sell you the new car you choose, using the methods described in this article. You’ll get a price commitment sheet for each dealer. There is a fee for this service.

Many credit unions, local American Automobile Association (AAA) chapters, membership warehouse stores, and employee associations have lists of dealers who have agreed to sell cars at a fixed markup from invoice. You can contact local organizations to see what programs are available. The dealers that participate in these programs may or may not pay to be listed, depending on the specific program’s arrangements.

Getting general car price information

Most libraries and bookstores, and many banks and credit unions, have books published by Pace Publications, St. Martin’s Press, and others showing list prices and invoice prices for new cars, and showing resale value estimates for used cars. Automotive News, available in some public libraries, gives information on rebate incentive programs.