When looking to buy a new vehicle, shop on the last days of the year for the current year model (for example buy a 2008 car in December 2008) and gather up any dealer and manufacturer incentives you can.
Be hard on the salesperson and keep driving that price down. Be sure to negotiate your interest rate as well. You can often get pre-qualified at your bank. This alone will save you time and money. Remeber always be Prepared to walk out.
Don’t tell the salesperson about a trade in until the deal is done. Also, make sure they give you a fair allowance depending on your trades condition and age. You can find this info at KBB.com
When buying a new car, skip the extended warranties, service plans, life insurance and make double sure the finance person does not sneak them onto your finance contract. They will keep hounding you so be firm and say no.
These added warranties may sound good, but they will cost you several thousand dollars and 99% of the time they will never be used.
You may want to consider GAP insurance. In case your car is stolen or totaled, it pays any difference between the car value and the loan. This may save your bacon in the end.
Also look for hidden fees like make ready, delivery, service fees etc… they are all just bull and if the dealer won’t remove them just walk out. (They will chase you and remove the fees)
Buying from an individual is also a great way to get a nice older car. It may be a risk but there are some real beauties out there with low mileage and impeccable maintenance.
Be sure the seller has a clear title. Do not give the seller money unless he immediately signs over the title at the time of payment and gives at least a hand written receipt. Make sure all co-owners sign as well. You don’t want to shell out good cash and get a nasty surprise from an ex spouse who may be co-owner of the vehicle.
Always be sure to call and add the car to your insurance right away. Cars are a big financial expenditure. It makes sense to cover all your bases.
If you are really in tough financial shape, you can get an old beater that’s over 15 years old but still mechanically sound for a few hundred dollars. With minimum liability insurance and a little TLC, a beat up car can be a stop gap measure until your finances are in better shape.