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You know what kind of car you want, but can you make it yours without a detour to the poorhouse? In this section we provide you with a road map to a successful purchase. We'll tell you how to research and prepare, choose whether to lease or buy, find the right car for you at the right price and then how to deal with the dealer. We examine the tricks and scams, show you how to negotiate and how to make sure you don't get slammed as you drive off the lot.

How to buy
EARLY DECISIONS

Surfing the Web to buy a car -- More people than ever use it to shop. But what about to buy?

Lease or buy? It depends on you -- Choosing between a lease and a purchase can make a lot of difference. But the right choice for you depends on your driving habits, style and your emotional makeup.

The ABCs of auto leasing -- Everything you need to know when deciding whether to lease.

Deciding whether to sell or trade -- It's time to get rid of the old clunker, but should you sell it yourself or trade it in?

SHOPPING

Community selling and buying at a car fair -- These open markets let sellers display their for-sale used cars and offer potential buyers one-stop shopping.

Buying a car the smart way -- To avoid the nightmarish task of buying a new car, many people simply surrender, overpaying for cars and options they don't need or want. Here's help -- a step-by-step guide to maintaining control of the car-buying experience.

Line up your auto financing first -- You'll be in a better spot to bargain if you have your financing pre-arranged.

What could be wrong with zero-percent financing? -- Plenty if you don't get a good price on the vehicle.

Top 10 dealer lies -- Most car salespeople are honest, but some give the profession a bad reputation. Here's a look at the repertoire of half-truths, deceptions and flat-out lies used by the dishonest ones.

MAKING THE DEAL

10 tips for dealing with an auto dealer -- Get inside the mind of an auto salesperson ... and win! Here's what to consider when shopping for a car.

Top 10 car buying mistakes -- Opening your heart and mouth to a auto salesman is roughly akin to opening your bank account. Here are the most common mistakes you can make.

Hidden truths lurking on MSRP stickers -- The MSRP sticker on the window of every new vehicle tells you just what the dealer wants you to pay. But should you? Not if you recognize these hidden truths.

Top 10 leasing lies -- When car sales people shifted over to become leasing agents, they had to modify their bag of tricks. Here's a litany of leasing lies to watch and listen for.

Final trap -- the business office -- Finally, the sales manager has OK'd your deal. But beware the final booby trap -- the finance and business office -- where the often worthless "goodies" get added on.

-- Posted: Dec. 9, 2003

2004 Car Guide
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