Common Car Buying Questions

I have been told that the way to get the best price when buying a car is to go to a number of different dealers and ask for their "best price," then compare the results. Is this the right tactic?
Probably this is the worst tactic you can use. Salespeople hear "I want your best price" many times every single day. They do not take it seriously, and know exactly how to combat it. This is why car buyers who use this method end up frustrated and confused before they ever make a buying decision. There are better ways (and much less aggravating ways) to achieve the same purpose, allowing you to get the right car at the right price, from a dealership that is right for your needs.

Should I use one of these "Car Buying Services" I hear so much about?
It depends. The car buying services that are available at no cost to the consumer are funded by the auto dealerships to whom you will be referred. They consider it to be another avenue of advertising for customers. These services, can, however, be a time and money saver if you are sure of the make and model that you want to buy. There are numerous Car Buying sources available, and we have investigated them all.

What is this "C.S.I." that I read so much about?
C.S.I. is a catch-all phrase for Customer Satisfaction Index, which is known by different terms by the various auto manufacturers. This is the ranking by which the manufacturers keep track of the level of customer satisfaction maintained by each dealership that sells their vehicles. Knowing the C.S.I. ranking of each dealership that you are considering is an extremely important facet of your purchase decision.

I'd rather not have to deal with a dealership. Can't I buy a car direct from the manufacturer?
No. Franchise laws nationwide make it illegal for the manufacturer to sell directly to customers. All car sales must be processed through a franchised new vehicle dealer. A new option, thugh, is to buy the car completely online.

Should I finance with the dealer?
The single advantage to financing with the dealer is convenience. There could, however, be many financial disadvantages. Before you ever commit to dealer financing, check all of the alternatives.

Do all car dealerships pay the same amount for their vehicles or is there a "volume discount?"
The invoice price (the amount that a dealer pays the factory for a vehicle) is the same for all dealerships, large or small. There is no difference in this price whether a dealer buys 1 vehicle or 100 vehicles. There is, however, another aspect to this equation. Many of the automobile manufacturers offer dealerships a bonus based on their level of customer satisfaction. (See the previous question). Therefore, there could be a price differential between dealers who offer high degree of customer satisfaction and dealers who have low scores. This is another reason why the knowledge of a dealership's C.S.I. is important information to have at your disposal.

What are the most important things that I can do to ease the aggravation of a buying a car?
Two words sum up the best approach to the car buying process: Information and Preparation. Before you go shopping for a car, take the time to gather as much information as possible about vehicles you are interested in and the actual car buying process. Then, use this information to prepare yourself to be on an even level with the salespeople and dealers you will encounter.

What if I have questions while I am in the middle of the car buying process?
Until recently, you would be pretty much on your own. We've found a great resource, though in the AutoVantage Gold program. Although it is a great opportunity to join a national auto club (24-hour roadside assistance and towing, trip routing and planning and discounts on rental cars and hotels), AutoVantage Gold has a special member benefit--a toll-free hotline--where you can have your car buying questions answered by an expert. You can even call from the dealership! You can even get a 3 month trial membership for only $1 and receive 4 free oil changes ($100 value) in the process!

If I buy a car and then change my mind, what is the law regarding returning it?
The law on returning a vehicle after you have taken delivery is fairly specific -- there is none. Somehow many car buyers have gotten the idea that there is a "3 day right to cancel" period if you change your mind. You don't! This is just one of the many reasons why your preparation is crucially important.