How to Buy a Car

NEVER buy from a corner used car lot.

NEVER lease a car. Its more expensive and your rights are fewer. It is like the difference between owning your house or renting.

  1. Set a budget and stick to a budget. Google cars within your budget. For example, google "new cars under 15,000". You will be surprised how many there are.
  2. Look at the cars online. KNOW what you want before you leave the house. Check prices online. Call the dealers before you visit. Ask them what is in inventory so you don't waste time if they don't have your choice. Do all this on the phone, before you leave the house. Don't let them talk you into something you don't want.
  3. Make sure you are talking to other dealers, and tell them you are talking to other dealers. Do not go to the dealership until you have negotiated the terms with them over the phone. If a dealer will not negotiate on the phone, just tell them thank you very much, because there are others who will.
  4. If you are at the dealership and you do not have the deal you want in 20 to 30 minutes, get up and leave. The longer they keep you there the more committed they believe you become, and the more bargaining power they have.
  5. Go to your bank or credit union and get financing before you go to the dealer. Your bank will give you a letter stating the terms. Show it to the dealer and ask if they can beat it.
  6. Also Google "car loans" and shop for a loan online. To figure out how much your payment will be, Google "car loan calculator". You can enter the amount of the loan, and the interest rate, and it will tell you how much your payment will be. When shopping for a car, don't negotiate the payment amount. Negotiate the price. The amount of the payment comes from the amount of the loan, times the interest rate.
  7. You can and should negotiate on the phone. Call the dealer and ask if they can do better than the prices that are being advertised, THEN ask them to fax you or email you the purchase contract so you can look at it.
  8. If the dealer does not cooperate, cross him off. If you are at the dealer and they are uncooperative, just leave. You can do that.
  9. Shop more than one dealer and tell the dealers that you are going to shop more than one place.
  10. DON'T sign a contract with an arbitration clause in it, if you can. Ask the dealer for the contract without the arbitration clause. They all have one. Some dealers may absolutely refuse, but at least you will know where you stand with them.
  11. Lastly, save your paperwork, the purchase contract and all the documents you got when you bought the car. If it is a used car, the Buyer's Guide that the dealer must post in the window of the car is very important. It has all the terms of your warranty coverage in it. DO NOT keep the papers in the glove compartment. Put them in your dresser drawer at home, or someplace safe where you know you will be able to find them.

San Diego Lemon Law Center | The Law Office of Michael E. Lindsey
Tel: (858) 270-7000 Fax: (858) 270-7710 | 4455 Morena Blvd., Ste. 207 San Diego, CA, 92117 (see map)

General Information Only

The information in the San Diego Lemon Law Center pages is for general information only and is not intended to be taken as legal advice. If you have a specific legal question or problem, please feel free to contact us or you should promptly consult with an Attorney handling such matters in your area for advice.