Fuel Costs

Whether a buyer is considering new or used options, one important factor in the decision must be fuel costs. As gas prices rise in the U.S., fuel costs have become a salient consideration. Inefficient vehicles, such as large SUVs and trucks, not only cost more for fuel to operate, but in many areas, these large gas-guzzlers are considered environmentally irresponsible. No matter the buyer’s views on the environment, driving a fuel efficient car will save money. Vehicles generally become more efficient over time as new models meet stricter fuel efficiency requirements. If you are a long distance commuter for work, it might be worth paying more for a new vehicle to save on the cost of fuel.

Energy efficient cars are generally smaller than full-sized or luxury vehicles. Very efficient options include those that operate with electricity, such as hybrid models. Though most hybrids, such as the Prius, are small and lack power when compared to standard efficiency vehicles, more hybrid models are currently being developed. GM will soon produce a hybrid Cadillac for those who would like energy efficiency in a luxury model. The main drawback when considering the purchase of a high efficiency model is the cost. Hybrid and other high energy efficient models generally cost significantly more than standard efficiency models.

Shoppers do not necessarily need to purchase high efficiency models to save money on fuel. Four cylinder engines are more fuel efficient than six cylinder engines. The smaller the automobile, the more fuel efficient it will be. Cars are more energy efficient than trucks and SUVs. If the buyer travels a great deal each week, they must consider the costs of fuel to operate the vehiclel. Sticking to smaller cars and foregoing the SUVs and larger trucks is one way to ensure fuel savings for long commutes.

Each vehicle in the U.S. is evaluated for its energy efficiency, though not all vehicles use these evaluation in their marketing materials. Purchasers must research the make and model they are considering to find the two fuel efficiency ratings. Highway MPG is an estimate of the miles per gallon the vehicle will get while traveling on the open road, such as a highway. City MPG is an estimate of the fuel efficiency of the vehicle when driving under stop-and-go conditions.

Fuel costs will likely rise over time. In addition, social pressure to reduce each individual’s carbon footprint will become even more pronounced. Purchasers must consider what they buy today will likely be the one they are fueling two years from now. Selecting the most fuel efficient model available will keep operating costs in control. Guard against out-of-control fuel prices of the future by purchasing a smaller, four cylinder vehicle or a hybrid.

Ways to Lower Insurance Costs

No matter if the buyer purchases new or used, the car will need to be insured. Unless the purchaser pays cash for the vehicle, they will be required to carry a full coverage policy in order to protect the lender’s interests in the case of a collision, weather damage or if the vehicle is stolen or vandalized. If the buyer purchases with cash and no portion of the purchase price is financed, the new owner may carry liability only insurance. In most states, at least a liability policy is required. However, depending on the vehicle age, buyers who pay in full upfront may still want to consider full coverage. In “at fault” states, liability covers only the other driver and vehicle in case of an accident. In “no fault” states, liability will cover only the minimum required for the policy for property damage and bodily injury. If the car is five years old or newer, the driver probably needs to carry full coverage insurance to make sure they are able to cover the cost of repairs in case of an accident or damage.

Whether the driver opts for full coverage or liability insurance, shopping around and comparing rates for similar policies with various carriers is essential for lowering insurance costs. Premiums greatly vary between companies for similar policies. With the Internet, comparing similar policies for several companies is quick and easy. Before the Internet, the task of comparing rates would entail calling each company for a quote for a specific policy. Now, with the Internet, comparisons between companies may be made within minutes. Those who seek to insure a newly purchased vehicle can quickly shop and compare the rates for several companies and choose the company that offers great rates for their products.

  • Car Insurance Discounts: In addition to comparison shopping, there are a few additional ways that individuals may save money on their auto insurance costs. Various discounts are offered by most insurance companies. Such discounts include multi-policy discounts. A multi-policy discount is when a policy holder insures more than one vehicle, or their vehicle and home, with the same company. Other possibilities would include carrying a motorcycle and a car policy, a vehicle and boat policy, and so on. Having more than one policy with an insurance carrier may provide as much as a 20 percent discount on the designated policies. Exploring discounts is a sure way to save money on insurance costs. Various insurance companies offer discounts for different consumers. Good Student discounts may be offered to high school and college students who maintain at least a B average in school. However, each insurance company requires that the student prove their GPA in different ways. Check with the insurance provider and ask about Good Student discounts, as well as other discounts that may apply.
  • Lower Deductibles: Each insurance policy is assigned a deductible. A deductible is the amount the policy is responsible for should they file a claim. Most insurance companies automatically assign a $500 deductible to their policies. This means that if $2000 in damage has been done by a fallen tree, the owner is responsible for paying the first $500. The insurance company provides the owner with the remaining $1500. Many insurance policy holders are unaware that they may raise the deductible on their policy. Raising the deductible to $1000 will considerably lower premium payments. However, the concern is if and when the owner files an insurance claim, they will be responsible for the first $1000 for the damages.
  • Add Young Drivers to the Family Policy: Another way to save on insurance costs is to add younger drivers onto their parents’ policy instead of obtaining a policy just for the young person. Younger drivers, due to their lack of experience with driving, have higher insurance rates. However, when they are added to their parents’ policy, the costs are adjusted for a better rate.
  • Carry Liability Instead of Full Coverage for Older Cars: If a vehicle is older than five years, the owner may consider carrying only liability insurance. Not only are liability insurance premiums less costly than full coverage premiums, full coverage makes less sense the older the car gets. The insurance company will base the amount they pay for claims on the current vehicle book value. The older the vehicle, the less the insurance company will pay on claims. Owners should always have the minimum coverage of liability insurance mandated by their state. Though for older automobiles, having full coverage insurance is often not cost effective.

Many people may think that the longer a consumer stays with an insurance company, the better rates they will get as a “loyalty” benefit. Unfortunately, this is not true. In fact, the longer a consumer stays with an insurance company, the less likely they will be to receive discounts and the more likely they are to having extra charges tacked onto their policies. Review insurance policies each year prior to renewal. Make sure that extra coverage has not been added without your knowledge. Renewal time is a great time to shop around for insurance. The owner will likely find that switching to another company will save them money on their insurance costs, especially if they have been with their insurance companies for years.

Ways to Negotiate Sales Prices and Online Alternatives to Haggling

Negotiating. Many Americans do not like to haggle for a better deal. However, haggling is commonplace in some cultures. If a buyer will haggle over the price of a new or used vehicle, they stand a chance of obtaining a better purchase price for the vehicle. Haggling simply means that the purchaser makes a counter-offer to the dealer or seller once they have presented the purchaser with a selling price. Haggling is simple negotiation. Dealers in particular have some bargaining leeway when it comes to the purchase price of their new and used vehicles. When shopping, the purchaser has nothing to lose. They should attempt to negotiate a lower selling price. Even a $500 break is often equivalent to a monthly payment. Buyers should always attempt to gert a better price than the asking price of the seller.

For those who are uncomfortable with the prospect of haggling for a better price, some websites offer services that allow users to comparison shop for the same make and model of vehicle. Sites such as CarsDirect and TrueCar allow users to search for a specific make and model in their geographical area. The search results provide the asking prices of various sellers and dealers. The site user may then contact the seller or dealer and even offer a lower price, if the so choose.

In addition, sites such as CarsDirect are a one-stop-shop. The buyer may locate a desired make and model, purchase insurance and apply for loans right from the site. Sites like TrueCar show the user the amount others have paid for the make and model they are searching for. Many people may prefer haggling over email or simply comparison shopping for a good selling price instead of haggling in person with a salesperson or a seller over their asking price. No matter the preference of the buyer, they should try to obtain the lowest selling price for the vehicle they choose. Online alternatives make the process less personal and more efficient. Use such sites to see what others are paying for the same make and model regardless of comfort level of face-to-face haggling. Some people may simply be intimidated with the prospect of being on the seller’s own turf when attempting to negotiate. Sites like CarsDirect and Truecar level the playing field and ensure that the dealer or seller is not able to influence the buyer as with a face-to-face interaction.

Even if the purchaser is a talented negotiator, sites such as CarsDirect and TrueCar provide a baseline of data that they should arm themselves with before confronting the dealer or seller. No matter how it is accomplished, buyers are advised to utilize all resources and become educate with regards to an acceptable purchase price before dealing with the seller or salesperson. Just remember that the asking price is often set with room built in for negotiation.

In some cases the vehicle you want most might not be available with all the features you want. For that reason it can make sense to be willing to consider used vehicles as well, or to pick out 2 or 3 different options, such that you can compare the best deals for them and chose the one which fits your needs while being the most affordable after you factor in the full operating costs and your typical usage patterns.

Should You Accept Dealer Financing? Learn How to Save on a Loan

Generally, most buyers should not accept dealer financing, unless there are compelling rebates that more than offset the typically higher interest rates. Even if the buyer has an excellent credit rating, the dealer’s finance company will likely charge them a higher interest rate than if the buyer were to obtain a loan from a bank or credit union. If the purchaser has less than perfect credit, the dealer finance company will likely charge a very high interest rate for the loan. Dealer financing with 18 percent interest are not uncommon for those with poor or no credit.

Just like with insurance, shopping around for good loan rates will save buyers a great deal of money on their loan. The lower the interest rate, the lower the overall cost of purchasing. Better still, if the purchaser is able to pay cash, they will not need a loan. This, however, requires that the purchaser save aggressively before embarking upon the purchase. Buyers who pay in full will have the option to carry liability or full coverage insurance and the buyer will only pay the price for the vehicle. They will pay no interest charges or fees associated with a loan. Clearly, saving in advance and paying cash is the best way to buy.

However, most people are not prepared to pay the full purchase price in cash when they buy, financing at least some portion of the vehicle. Still, a large downpayment will minimize the loan and keep monthly payments down. For those who must finance their vehicles, taking a few months to clean up any credit problems before applying for the loan is advisable. Obtain credit reports from all three credit reporting agencies, which you can do for free at AnnualCreditReport.com. Challenge any information that is not recognized or verifiable. The company that has placed the entry on the credit report has 30 days to respond to a challenge with proof that the creditor owes them what the entry claims. If the company does not respond within 30 days, the entry is removed from the credit report.

Once credit reports are cleaned up, the buyer should shop the loan around to various banks and finance companies. With good credit, the purchaser will be more likely to obtain a low interest rate for the loan. Factor in a healthy downpayment so that an amount less than the full purchase price must be financed, and the purchaser will obtain a better interest rate and lower monthly payments, too. Generally speaking, the lower the amount borrowed & the shorter the loan term, the less interest you have to pay on a loan.

What Time of Year to Buy to Get the Best Deals

Many people believe that the best time of year to buy is in September. For example, the best time to purchase a 2012 model is in September of 2012. This is because the next year’s models are released in September of the preceding year so in September of 2012, the 2013 models are showing up at the dealerships. The dealers will make better deals knowing that they need to clear out the inventory to make room for the 2013 models. Dealers will often offer “year end” sales on the previous years’ models.

Edmunds recommends that the best time of year to purchase new is during the holiday season. The reasoning for this is that dealerships are not selling as many new vehicles during this time of year and the odds of getting a good deal are in the buyer’s favor. Edmunds also recommends that buyers will get a better deal if they purchase at the end of the month, when dealerships are trying to meet sales quotas to get bonuses from manufacturers.

One responder to a survey about when the best time of year to buy suggests that during the Superbowl is the best time of year to buy. This person apparently went into a dealership when the salespeople were gathered around a TV watching the game. The salesman gave the purchaser a great deal in record time, and did not try to sell the customer any extras, simply to get back to watching the game. Though this study is anecdotal, it does give shoppers something to think about.

Other experts believe that any time of year is the best time for purchasing so long as you are flexible with your options. The fact is, buyers may negotiate good deals any time of the year. Dealerships will often offer special sales on particular makes and models, or they may have sales over a period of time. As long as the buyer does their homework and shops around for the best deals, and they are able to negotiate a good purchase price, any time of the year can work.

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