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June 06, 2012

Preparing and empowering women is key to a successful car buying experience

Used car buyer Senior Editor, Diana Merrill Claussen recently spoke with Kiplinger’s Associate Editor Jessica Anderson about the publication’s upcoming June issue which will highlight many tips on purchasing used vehicles and thoughts to consider when deciding between a new or used car.



It is a seller’s market

“With used car prices reselling high it’s a seller’s market to those who want to sell to the dealerships because they (the dealerships) will pay you more to acquire your used car.”


Used market prices are exploding

“People are also keeping cars longer,” Anderson said.  “If you are thinking about buying used then keep in mind that prices have drastically increased since the economic downturn so consider that with a new car (opposed to used), you will receive a better warranty, a vehicle with much less mileage, and additional safety and standard features,”  many of which are now mandated for 2012 models such as stability control.


Purchasing a New Model

“When it comes to purchasing a new (current year model), wait until the last two weeks of August and the first two weeks of September because that is when dealerships are going to move out their current years inventory to make way for new models coming in.  This timeframe will also be your best window for the biggest selection,” Anderson said.  “For new 2012s, (it is still ok to) wait until December 31 because that is when dealerships will try to make monthly and annual sales goals and will be most willing to strike a deal.  Also, since auto production is back to pre-recession levels, there are plenty of new cars out there with generous incentives on them, (making them more appealing to buyers),” Anderson said.


Best bargain opportunities

When it comes to purchasing a vehicle, buyers really have to do their homework.  “Deals aren’t always as available (as far as incentives) when it comes to used vehicles, although used are typically less expensive than new vehicles,” Anderson said.  Sometimes though the bottom line price can be extremely close between a new and used model.


What’s Hot

Right now, compact cars are a hot segment in both new and used due to increased cost in fuel miles per gallon.  “Right now consumers have mpg on the brain because of high gas prices,” Anderson said.  She also suggests to, “Look for cars that were best sellers (when they were new models), such as Honda Civic, VW Jetta, and Toyota Corolla, because there will be more of those used models available and on the lots.  This knowledge can be used as a bargaining chip to have dealerships compete for your business.”

“Last year’s popular midsize cars such as the Hyundai Sonata and Toyota Camry now have new 2012 models to compete with such as the Ford Fusion, and the new Chevy Malibu.  These are some of the biggest players in the segment and they have led to an increase in accessory and vehicle options which entices midsized car buyers to purchase.   More new midsize models on the market also contributes to more used midsizes available on dealership lots,” Anderson said.  Below are additional tips Anderson recommends considering when researching and purchasing a vehicle.  



Dealer and you- Approach the sale with knowledge - This will help you feel empowered during such an overwhelming experience.

- Never tell a salesman how much you can spend on a monthly payment.

- Keep your trade-in separate (sell privately or have dealers compete for your trade-in).

- Focus on overall price of car

- used car appraisal is a good tool to research new car information and pricing.

- Bring a print-out of Edmunds information sheet to make a dealership justify their price.

- has a wonderful website and gives hundreds of details about average model prices in your area.  They also tell you what the incentives are which dealers do not always disclose to the buyers.  

-  Check Manufacturer websites to see if Dealer Cash is offered from the manufacturer on the particular model.

-  Loyalty Discounts are sometimes available if you are a loyal consumer of a particular manufacturer.  Sometimes dealers will even offer a discount for switching to their brand, (if you were previously a consumer of a different car brand).

-  he better armed with information you are, the better it will be for you to go into these negotiations.  Knowing what you are talking about is a definite way that will keep a dealership from pulling the wool over your eyes.


Lady getting the keysIt is important for ladies to not feel intimidated by the car buying process,” Anderson said.  “If they are fully informed then they will have the knowledge needed, (to make an informed and unintimidating decision).”

Another hot topic to consider before purchasing is safety.  ”Manufacturer’s have really started paying attention to safety and comfort features of economy and compact cars and these sized vehicles are no longer econo-boxes anymore,” Anderson said.

Safety Features

“One of the features we recommend that is the most valuable feature to have is a back-up camera which makes a huge difference in reducing accidents and gives you more information while in the driver’s seat,” Anderson said.   

Here are a few more popular safety features which are becoming more standard on many base models:

-          Anti-lock Brakes

-          Traction control

-          Look for additional airbags – (six airbags is considered standard)

-          Blind spot monitors


Diana Merrill Claussen
Senior Editor



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