Our goal is to level the playing field for Hispanic car buyers who often pay more and get less when they go to buy a car. We want to make sure you get treated fairly and find a car that’s right for you with the financing you deserve. We achieve part of this goal by getting member dealers and suppliers to sign our Pledge, but we believe educating consumers is an important factor in leveling the playing field, so we’ve created a guide to help our members understand every aspect of the car buying experience so that when they go to buy, they get the best deal.
Let’s Talk For A Minute
Before you begin reading the guide, we want to talk to you for a second about what it means to buy a car. This may sound kind of funny because everyone buys cars right? That’s true, but the fact is that a lot of car buyers don’t think about buying cars the right way and it causes problems for them later.
Most people tend to think of car purchases in the same way they do their cell phones or cable bills, they’re just another monthly expense. While it’s an easy way to think about it, and it’s what many dealers focus on when selling a car, the monthly expense model is misleading.
Unlike your cable or wireless service, a car payment is tied to the car itself and cars wear out.
So if you finance a car for 5 years and the car starts having problems after two years, you have to pay to fix it and you still have to pay the monthly fee. If the car dies, you still have to make the payments while you get another car.
Why is that important? For the simple reason that when people go to buy a car they are so focused on the monthly fee the forget that they OWN the car. Car payments represent the 2nd highest percentage of debt for most households in the US. Pretty much everyone has a car loan, and they have a huge impact on how people manage their finances. Screwing up a car loan basically destroys your credit, which means you’ll pay more for the next car. Usually way more. So, as you read through the guide we want you to think about 3 things:
- Plan ahead – don’t buy a car, new or used if you don’t need to right now. Use the time to improve your credit score and save for a down payment. As you’ll see you’ll get a much better car and deal if you have the time to plan ahead.
- Live within your means – the numbers show clearly that you shouldn’t buy a car that costs more than 25% of your annual earnings particularly if its a used car. Most people who follow this advice will be fine.
- Buy what you need not what you want – cars are emotional experiences, and that’s fine, but its more important to buy a car that works for you than it is to buy one that makes you look good. The typical American only drives their car 5% of the time. The rest of the time the car is just sitting there. Think about it.
Using The Guide
To make it simple the guide is organized into sections that describe the key elements of the car buying experience:
- Understanding Your Options – Describes how to think about the kind of car you need for your lifestyle and budget. We compare the advantages of new vs used vs certified pre-owned cars and give you some practical advice about how to make the right choice between them.
- Choosing A Vehicle – Describes how to research specific cars you are interested in, find out more about them and understand what you should expect to pay for the car you are thinking about buying.
- Shopping For Your Car – Describes what tools to use and how to find the right cars to check out in your local market. It also provides detailed worksheets for creating your list.
- Kicking The Tires – Describes what to look for when you go to see the cars that match your search. It also provides detailed worksheets and advice on what to look for when you check out the cars you’ve chosen and test drive them.
- Financing You Vehicle – Describes the ins and outs of financing your car including improving your credit score, choosing a lender, negotiating down payments and interest rates, in short everything you need to know to make sure you get the best deal.
- Doing The Deal – Describes the nuts and bolts of buying the car you want, from putting together your ‘negotiating package’ to understanding the dealer’s sales strategies and dealing with them
In addition to teaching you about these core elements of the car buying process, we also discuss aftermarket services and products like insurance, warranties, and accessories.