2004-09-03 / Columnists

Notes On Consumer Affairs

By Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer

Audrey Pheffer
Audrey Pheffer Purchasing an automobile is often considered to be a daunting and difficult experience. This is not surprising, especially considering that for many people their automobile purchase will be the second largest purchase they make in their lifetime. Because of the magnitude of the purchase, here are some things to consider when you find yourself in the market for a new vehicle.

The well known phrase, “you’ve got to shop around” certainly applies to vehicle buying. Surveys show that consumers who research their vehicle before purchasing it pay an average of 5% less for their vehicle than those who do not. 1Before visiting any dealerships, it is important to have researched the vehicles that you are considering. A great deal of information exists to help consumers research this important purchase.

Here are some sites that may prove helpful. Consumer Reports’ website, www.consumerreports.org, reviews vehicle performance, fuel economy, price, and safety while the Kelley Blue Book’s website, www.kbb.com, offers advice on a vehicle’s price and value. Once you have an idea of which vehicles you are interested in, it is time to choose a dealership.

Prior to visiting dealerships, it is a good idea to review auto advertisements to compare prices and promotional offers. Contacting your local Better Business Bureau may also provide you with valuable information regarding reputable dealerships in your area.

Once you have begun visiting dealerships, be sure to test drive any vehicle you are interested in on various road surfaces and in various driving conditions.

Also, be wary of high pressure tactics, and be sure all of your questions are answered to your satisfaction prior to entering a sales agreement. Be sure that any verbal promises made to you by your car dealer or dealership are included in the contract, and read the contract over thoroughly before signing.

While shopping for a new car, many people do not realize that it is just as important to shop for financing as it is to shop for the car itself.

Unnecessarily high interest rates can equal money wasted. While the promotional rates offered by dealerships and vehicle manufacturers may be great deals, you may be able to secure a better rate with your bank or another lending institution.

When negotiating your finance agreement, it is important to know the total, final price of the car, not just the amount of the monthly payments.

Also, be on the look out for balloon payments. If the monthly payments seem too good and too low to be true, watch out. Such payment plans often include a very large final payment, known as a balloon payment.

When purchasing a vehicle it is also important to consider the other costs of ownership aside from the monthly payments.

Automobile insurance rates can vary greatly by vehicle, and calling your insurance agent before you purchase your vehicle can save you from an unpleasant surprise later.

Extended warranties and service contracts are also commonly added costs of automobile buying. Extended warranties and service contracts tend to be expensive, but they are offered at various institutions, and the prices and coverage offered vary.

All warranties must include the following parts at a minimum: engine, transmission, drive axle, brakes, radiator, steering, alternator, generator, starter, and the ignition system, excluding the battery.

Any waiver of warranty is void.

If you purchase an extended warranty or service contract, and the copy is delivered to you at the time of sale, you are entitled to a full refund, less any claims paid, within ten days. If your service contract is mailed to you, you are entitled to a refund within twenty days of the mailing of the service contract.

There are many things to consider when purchasing a new car.

Let this article be the stepping stone to your research prior to your new motor vehicle purchase.

For more information on the process, visit the New York State Consumer Protection Board at http:// www.consumer.state.ny.us, or the Office of the NYS Attorney General at http:// www. oag.state.ny.us.

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