Do the research before buying a new car

You can find a new car to fit your budget, and save money, if you take some time to do your research. Here’s how you get started.

Find out what’s available on Guam.  Each of the major new car dealers on island have websites that list their inventories and their specials, so you can get started on shopping from your home. You should narrow down a list of cars you want to seriously consider by the criteria we’ve discussed in past columns: your needs and your budget. If a website doesn’t list the price of a car you’re interested in, you can always find the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) to use as a guidepost on websites like Kelley Blue Book (kbb.com), Edmunds. com, or Autos.yahoo.com.

Do your research online. You can find out much more about the kinds of cars you’re interested in by searching through the major car websites listed above. Manufacturers’ websites are another major source of information. The strength of the internet is in comparison shopping: you can compare cars from different manufacturers side by side, and decide which cars offer the best value for your personal budget and needs.

Compare the fuel efficiency of different cars for better savings. Gas prices on Guam have been on the rise, and with fuel-efficient cars on the market, your choice of car can make a difference in your  pocket, year after year. At www.  fueleconomy.gov, you can compare the fuel efficiency of different cars, along with the amounts of money you will spend to fill up each car’s gas tank. Choosing a 30-mpg (mile per gallon) vehicle over a 18-mpg vehicle can save you as much as $1,000 each year, which is money you can use for insurance, your mortgage, your debt, or your child’s college fund.

Should you consider a hybrid car?  Hybrid cars are among the most fuel-efficient cars on the market, with MPG ratings of up to 40 and 50 for the most recent models. Hybrid cars can be more expensive than traditional cars, but that cost could be made up in the savings on gas, year after year. The best way for you to decide is compare prices on the specific hybrid you want along with the other cars on your list, along with fuel costs for the next five years or so. If you can save more with your specific model, you’ll have your answer.

Check for rebates and incentives. You can save money by finding out whether the manufacturer or the dealer is offering rebates and incentives on cars in stock. Edmunds.com lists manufacturer rebates and incentives for Guam zipcodes, and you can check local websites and your newspaper for Guam-based deals.

Consider your timing. If a dealer is trying to unload inventory and prepare the way for new models coming in for the next year, you may be able to get a better deal on your car and save some money in the long run. Watch for year-end deals, when the latter months of the year roll around.

Be prepared to negotiate. A dealer pays an invoice price for cars coming into the lot, and sells cars based on the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. If you know from your research the kind of car you want, its invoice price and its MSRP, you can negotiate with your salesman to get a better deal, targeting a price closer to the invoice price.

Michael Camacho is the president and CEO of Personal Finance Center. He has more than 18 years experience in retail banking and with financial institutions in Guam and Hawaii.

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