Whether you’re buying a new or used car, careful research and planning will help you get the right vehicle without the one option nobody wants: onerous monthly payments.

Here are some ways to save money:

Check on reliability– Nothing can torpedo a budget like unexpected repair costs. The annual Consumer Reports car reliability survey cites both overall ratings and specific problems. If you’re a paid subscriber to the magazine or online service, visit consumerreports.org.

Look at continuing costs– Although insurance and gasoline costs are continuous, new-car depreciation–the value it loses each year–is a major factor. Edmunds summarizes these variables in a feature called True Cost to Own, accessible on their home page. A vehicle that costs less to buy now than a competitor may in fact cost more to own over a five-year period.

Negotiate hard– Reduce your purchase price by looking for the dealer cost or “invoice price” on sites like Edmunds.com and Kelley Blue Book. Then aim for a selling price before any rebate of no more than 2% over the invoice price. Better yet, stop in any Ascentra and let us help you get preapproved before you even start to shop for a car.

Auto Dealer Extras Cost Less at the Credit Union– Pay attention to what auto dealerships are charging for GAP (guaranteed asset protection) insurance and mechanical repair coverage. GAP insurance covers the difference between what a consumer owes a lender and what an auto insurer will pay if a car is totaled or stolen shortly after it’s purchased. Mechanical repair coverage extends the dealer warranty, sustaining the resale value. Ascentra offers these products, often at a substantially lower cost.


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