Read The Fine Print
are some great deals to be had on new cars today, its always
smart to be sure you understand the offers and especially,
whether there are any qualifiers, restrictions,
exclusions or limitations that could affect
Most ad offers
whether TV, print or online showcase the big numbers
and best deals in very large type with any stuff that might
not be so appealing scrunched down into micro-sized print at the
every bottom of the page (or read-through at warp speed by an announcer
Here are some
things to be on the lookout for:
only available in FLA, GA, SC
(and so on)
offered by the automakers are sometimes regional meaning,
if you dont live in one of the areas where the deal is good,
the deal is not available to you. The same car might cost
$1,500 less (or more) just by crossing the state line.
estimates are computed on the basis of a 10 percent down payment
deals are contingent on things like the buyer coming up with a predetermined
cash down payment. For example, if the car youre looking at
has a price tag of $40,000 then youd need $4,000 in cash at
the time of sale to take advantage of the advertised low-rate financing.
If you dont have the $4k cash down payment, they may stick
you with a higher-than-advertised finance rate.
not compatible with other offers
you may not be able to get both low-rate financing and x
dollars cash back. You have to pick one or the other. Its
important to run the numbers before you are in the pressure cooker
of the dealers store, too. This way, youll know ahead
of time whether it makes more sense for you to go with the lower-rate
financing or the rebate.
participation may affect savings
the offers contingent on the dealers participation
in the program (rebate/cash back, special rate financing, etc.)
being advertised by the automaker. Remember: Dealers are independently-owned
franchise operations; they may sell Fords or Hondas, etc.
but you are not dealing with Ford or Honda, per se. Be sure the
dealer youre negotiating with is, in fact, participating in
the rebate/cash back deal you saw on TV. He may not be.
assume he is.
Bonus Cash, buyer must take retail delivery by
the deals only good if you buy the car before a specific date.
This can put pressure on the consumer to make a snap decision
or purchase a car off the lot that may not have all
the features and equipment (or color) the buyer wanted, etc. Or
worse, have more features (and a higher price tag) than the buyer
wanted. If you end up buying a higher trim or more optioned-out
version of the car you wanted, the higher price may negate whatever
savings you were counting on via bonus cash.
do not include the cost of transportation and handling charges,
dealer prep, labor
This is a potential
loophole big enough to drive a Hummer through. The price you thought
you were getting could very well turn out to be nothing like the
price you actually end up getting, if you are not careful
and determined. Insist that every charge/fee associated with the
proposed purchase be clearly spelled out, in writing, before you
commit to buy. Dealer prep alone can add hundreds to
the bottom line erasing the savings you may have expected
via the cash back lure that got you into the showroom.
all buyers will qualify
offers have this little caveat somewhere in the fine print. If you
are a young/first-time buyer or have less than exemplary
credit that 1.9 (or lower) finance rate you were counting
on may be unavailable to you. Its a good idea to check alternate
sources for financing such as a bank or credit union
just in case the deal being offered by the automakers finance
arm wont be extended to you.
In fact, you
should always shop money before you go shopping for the car.
and other mileage restrictions may apply
the offer might be contingent not just on where you happen to live
but also on how many miles you drive annually (lease contract).
It doesnt do you much good to get a great deal on a lease
if your annual mileage exceeds the maximum allowable, at which point
youll get whacked with often hideously high additional charges.
Its always best to over-estimate your annual mileage
just to be safe when it comes to lease contracts.
shown may contain optional equipment available at additional cost
In other words,
what you see (in the ad) may not be what you get (at the dealership).
Be sure the car you want with the equipment you want
is in fact available under the terms of the offer.
A great deal
on a car you dont want isnt much of a bargain.
cash offered on eligible vehicles must be financed or leased through
(the automakers captive finance arm)
that in order to get the offered cash back/rebate, you have to finance
the vehicle through the automakers own finance company (Ford
Credit, GMAC, etc.) rather than a credit union or private bank.
You may also not be able to get the cash back if you pay cash for
the vehicle. Basically, the automaker is looking to recoup the cash
back by making money from you via interest payments. It may
still be a good deal for you or not.
The key to
negotiating the fine print shoals is to take the time to read and
understand every clause, caveat and potential loophole before you
sign anything or cut a check.
with permission from EricPetersAutos.com.
[send him mail] is an automotive
columnist and author of Automotive
Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his
© 2011 Eric Peters
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