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Some of the most complaints generated are those of used car sales, auto repair and auto leasing. Some people, in fact, feel most vulnerable when buying or leasing. They know the reputation of car salesmen, which in some cases can be true. I’m sure there are good ones out there… somewhere? Many of us would choose a visit to the dentist rather than be subjected to the process of buying a car. There are a few things we can do, so lets think about it.

Shop in advance for the very best deal in financing your car. It should not be an after-thought as to where you will get the loan. Consider the interest rate. Shopping around will get you a better rate. When you buy a car new or used, be sure to comparison shop. You are then at least armed with some good ideas of what other dealers are charging for a comparable product. Read and research, use Consumer Reports, Motor Trend, and more. Ask for written quotes on the price, and don’t talk about your trade-in just yet. The trade-in, purchase, and financing should be arranged as 3 separate deals. They may suggest that you go ahead and “take” possession of the automobile but say “no” until the paperwork is completed. Read and understand the contract before signing; ask questions until you feel comfortable. Avoid the goodies added to your vehicle that are high profit for the dealer but of low gain for you.

What about that “knee jerk” reaction, “I see it, I want it” impulsive buying habit? Avoid it like the plague. This is especially true if the salesperson is pressing you to buy. It is always a good idea to relax and sleep on the offer.

Many people do not think of checking the complaint records of the dealer. You can find this at the Better Business Bureau or Consumer Protection Agency.

Read the guide sticker displayed in the window of the car. If the warranty box is checked get a copy and check it carefully before buying.

What are we actually doing when we lease a car? We are simply paying to drive an automobile that belongs to someone else. The payments may be lower, but when all is said and done, and you have made your last payment… neither the car nor any part of it belongs to you.

Shop as if you are buying a new car. Ask for a copy of standardized information and disclosure and itemized cost. You can bargain for the price of the vehicle and lease terms. If you can get the lease price lowered it will help to lower the payments also. Get everything in writing including the terms for wear and use. You will most always get little “dings” on your car; this should be noted as everyday wear and tear and not charged as significant damage at the end of the lease. Get everything in writing.

There is a charge if you turn the car in before the end of the lease. You are generally allowed to drive 12,000 to 15,000 miles per year. You will be charged 10 to 25 cents per additional mile. The warranty should cover the entire lease term and the number of miles you are “likely” to drive.

Note every item of equipment on the car, because it is possible to be charged for missing equipment. Take your time signing the contract, ask for a copy and take it home to read leisurely away from the tension of the “deal.” You do not have 3 days to cancel the lease after you sign.

Good luck; the decision is yours!