4 Questions You Should Ask the Dealer When Car Shopping

posted January 12, 2018 in Blog

Once you ask these questions and are satisfied with the responses provided, you can feel comfortable signing on the dotted line as an informed consumer:

1) What are the additional fees?

Legitimate costs include sales tax, registry costs and a documentation fee. However, the amount dealers charge for filling out the contract (the doc fee) is not universal. According to the trusted automotive resource Edmunds.com, some states regulate these fees and cap them below $100, so before you seal any deals, check the paperwork and negotiate down an outrageous doc fee. Another questionable fee you may encounter is a “vehicle preparation fee.” This means, for example, they are charging you for making sure there is oil in the vehicle and for performing other menial tasks that one would expect to be done inevitably before a car is rolled off the lot.

2) Are there any aftermarket parts on the vehicle?

Inclusion of “add-ons”—from things as simple as tinted windows to things as complicated as car alarms—is another way the cost of your vehicle can increase.

Mud flaps, rust-proofing and paint sealants can often be purchased elsewhere for much less. Before saying yes to a vehicle purchase, you will want to double-check with the dealer and in the contract, and negotiate accordingly.

3) What is the lowest price you can give me?

Instead of telling the auto dealer the highest price you can afford to pay each month, take the reins by figuring out the lowest possible price you would pay on the vehicle in question. It is also smart to go into negotiations with financing options already lined up. Discuss your plans with a representative at Greater Iowa Credit Union, including the type of vehicle you are planning to purchase, before you head to the dealership.

4) Can I see an accident history report and title history?

Most dealers these days automatically provide a CARFAX report for all vehicles, as well as an AutoCheck report to be thorough. These documents also report title history, which will disclose any previous problems with the vehicle such as odometer issues, a rebuilt engine or whether it was ever reported stolen. If you choose to proceed without checking one or both of these reports, or something like them, you are putting yourself at risk for a large devaluation of the vehicle.

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