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6 common car-shopping mistakes

5. Not knowing what you want. It may seem hard to believe, but some surveys suggest that car buyers often start out with only a vague idea of what they want or need in a new or used car. That attitude puts the power in the hands of the sales person, who can then steer you toward the vehicle that puts the most money in the dealer's pocket as opposed to what's right for you. Think critically of your transportation needs and try not to buy more vehicle than you need or can afford.

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6. Getting too focused on the monthly payment. Even if you have scoped out a budget and know you can pay, say, $500 a month, don't go shopping with that figure in mind. Unless you're the most tight-lipped person in the showroom, you'll eventually let slip that $500 is your target number and, like magic, the sales person will come up with a deal that exactly matches your number. Lost in that shuffle will be such critical things like the term of the loan and value for your trade.

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