Consumers for
Reliability and
Safety ®

Expert Advice on How to Buy a New Car

A step-by-step guide to how to get the best deal on a new car
Los Angeles Times
July 12, 2014
by Jerry Hirsch
"Can you afford to give away $5,000?

That's the difference between what savvy and not-so-savvy buyers recently paid for the exact same Nissan Altima in Southern California.

Those who paid too much, up to $25,800 for the popular family sedan, probably bought their cars the old-fashioned way: by walking into a dealership blind, with no research, and buying the car after a brief test-drive. (They may have also cost themselves thousands more in unnecessary warranties, service plans or accessories.)

Those who got a killer deal, as low as $20,600, probably came armed with knowledge about the car's real market value, then followed a systematic process to negotiate the price - over email, instead of in a glass cubicle at the dealership....

Time to go shopping

Know what you want.

Are five seat belts enough, or do you need space for seven passengers? Do you want fuel economy or cargo room? Basic transportation, or speed and sex appeal?

Manufacturer's websites, with their digital car-building tools, can help you pinpoint the trim level and options you need.

To answer such vexing questions, start with five must-see websites....
(Read more: Los Angeles Times: "Step-by-Step Guide to How to Get the Best Deal on a New Car")

Go for a drive

Take your list to an auto mall, where you can test drive cars from multiple brands. Leave your checkbook at home.

Research prices

Once you know what you want, find out what you want to pay. Start at, which provides more useful data for negotiating a deal than rivals and Kelley Blue Book's

Make dealers bid

Now you know what you want to pay, but it's still not time to head to the dealership. You'll have a lot more success - and less hassle - negotiating from the comfort of your home computer.

Say no to add-ons

Once you have a confirmed price, call the dealership's general manager and make sure that they have the car and that there will be no changes in options, price or fees.

Take delivery

After all is buttoned down, give the dealer the information it needs for the contract and ask that you be called after it is completely filled out, with the exception of your signature. When the dealer calls, once again confirm the price.

Make an appointment to sign the paperwork and pick up the car. Better yet, ask if the dealer will deliver it to your house. For handling a trade-in, see our accompanying story."

Read more: Los Angeles Times: "Step-by-Step Guide to How to Get the Best Deal on a New Car"


If you must trade in your car, here's how to get the most for it
Los Angeles Times
July 12, 2014
by Jerry Hirsch
"The best advice about trading in your car is to avoid it.

You'll always get more money selling it on your own, sometimes thousands more.

A quick tour of Kelley Blue Book's used-car valuation service shows you why. Take a 2010 Honda Accord EX sedan in "very good" condition with 50,000 miles on the odometer and see what it is worth.

Kelley says that the trade-in value is $13,054 and that it would sell to a private party for $14,549. That's a $1,500 difference, but the gap could be bigger because many dealers don't offer the full Kelley Blue Book trade-in value. They try to buy at low wholesale and sell at the top retail price.

Trading in a car also complicates the purchase of a new car, giving the dealer an opening to inject more profit into the deal by low-balling your car. It's also much easier for a buyer to negotiate one transaction - a car purchase - rather than adding a second transaction into the deal....

...if you're going to trade in your car, take some basic steps to ensure you get a fair deal.

First, nail down the price for your new car before discussing the price for your trade."

Read more: "Los Angeles Times: How to get the most for your car if you must trade it in"
text resize Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size

C.A.R.S. Mission
CARS is a national, award-winning,
non-profit auto safety and consumer
advocacy organization working to
save lives, prevent injuries, and
protect consumers from
auto-related fraud and abuse.

to everyone who has supported CARS' work, including the more than 573,500 people who have contributed financially to CARS, signed or shared CARS' petitions, and / or posted personal comments.

Read more here

Find us on Facebook   Join us on Facebook
Please Like us on Facebook  
Follow us on Twitter    Follow us on Twitter

Buyer Beware: CarMax sells cars with killer safety defects.
Advertises cars passed "rigorous inspection" and qualify as "CarMax Quality Certified" without getting safety recall defects fixed.

Find us on Facebook
Learn more
about the
CARS Foundation
Follow us on Twitter
Help tell the
world that
We DO Count!
Follow us on Twitter
Visit today!

Take Action

Join our campaign on Facebook!
Take Action
Sign CARS' petition: Tell CarMax to stop selling unsafe, recalled cars to consumers
Buyer beware!  
NEVER trust that a dealer will have the safety recall repairs performed before selling you a car that is being recalled. Dealers are so eager to make a buck, fast, they are unwilling to delay sales long enough to get the safety recall repairs done -- for FREE.

Plus -- dealers are actively opposing legislation in Washington, DC and in California that would prohibit them from renting, selling, leasing, or loaning unsafe, recalled vehicles to consumers, unless the safety recall repairs have been performed first.

CARS' tips on how to buy a safe, reliable used car — without having to risk going to a dealer:

Top 12 used car buying tips

Dealers playing "used car roulette" with customers' lives — and opposing legislation to make them stop

Did a dealer sell you an unsafe, recalled car? We want to hear your story. Contact CARS

Buyer Beware! Auto dealers' one-
sided contracts can ruin your life
Even if the car dealer breaks the law, you might not be able to get justice. Forced arbitration clauses hidden in the fine print can keep you tied up for years. The dealer often gets to pick the arbitrator who hears your case. CARS exposed how a dealer abused arbitration, after selling Jon Perz an unsafe car. CARS' video has received over 1.3 million views on YouTube. Jon and his attorney eventually won, but because of forced arbitration, Jon had to wait 8 years for justice:
Think this is outrageous? Call your member of Congress at 202-224-3121, and urge them to vote for the Arbitration Fairness Act. More about the AFA, now pending before Congress:
Here's what we're doing to bring
more attention to Jon's plight:
Used Car Nightmare logo

Jon Perz has started a new petition
on the website
You're invited to check it out and send a message letting Mossy Toyota know what you think:
used car nightmare petition

Please Donate to CARS