Editorial: Car purchases not necessarily a hassle

Apr. 03, 2013 @ 02:56 PM

Highway driving is likely to be increasing for a number of us as the spring months roll in and quickly turn to summer. Travel will increase for family graduations, summer fun or just to get away from it all.

In preparation, some of us might be doing a few things with our vehicles, including getting new rides. A recent advisory from the state’s attorney general offers tips to avoid headaches later. We believe they make sense as suggestions.

• Arrange financing before going to a lot. Buyers’ local banks, credit unions and online resources will enable choices for the best loans, saving trouble and keeping the buyer in control of the process.

• If financing with the dealer, that’s fine, but get written proof the loan is officially approved. Reputable dealers have no problem making sure it’s in your hand. If no proof, don’t take the vehicle.

• Track money invested in the purchase, including registration, insurance, down payments and trades. Don’t use cash. Always get receipts for a transaction, and then keep up with them.

• A finance document will be a binding contract showing payments, deposit, interest rate and any other financial terms. The buyer has rights through the contract.

• Conditional delivery sales allow the buyer to drive the vehicle off the lot before financing has been finalized. State law allows 96 hours for the dealer to work out the financing, sending the car away with dealer tags on the dealer’s insurance. If the buyer agrees to this, check for charges related to mileage should the vehicle end up being returned because the deal falls through. And if the vehicle has to be returned, the buyer has rights to get their trade-in back, even if it’s already been sold.

• Take a trusted friend, not to impress them with negotiating skills, but to witness interaction with the dealer. If there’s a promise, kindly ask for it in writing.

The attorney general shares public information on finance companies and dealerships within the Consumer Protection Division. Call toll free at (877) 566-7266. Another good resource is the Better Business Bureau, just a click away at bbb.org, from which you can zero in to a location.

As always, buyer beware.