The World of Cars
Cars have come a long way since the first mass-produced automobile, the Model T. The Model T came in one color, black. And it was the only model available from Ford at the time. These days, there are a variety of cars for a variety of uses. If you need to haul a lot of passengers, you can opt for a van or an SUV. If your job takes you offroad, you might want an SUV with four-wheel drive. Some drivers opt for the safety of a family sedan like a Toyota Camry or the reassuring Volvo station wagon. Drivers with cash burning a hole in their pockets can opt for a luxury car from favorite pricy brands like Mercedes, BMW, Lexus, Toyota, Jaguar, Land Rover, Rolls Royce, or Bentley. Those with a need for speed often spring for sports cars, which range from cheaper models like the Mazda Miata or the Ford Mustang to autos costing hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more) from premium manufacturers like Ferrari and Lamborghini. And for the environmentally conscious, there are hybrid vehicles -- the most popular being the Toyota Prius -- or the newer clean-diesel technologies, represented by Volkswagen and Audi.
Saving Money on Cars
The best way to save money on a car is to purchase a used vehicle. Most of the vehicle's depreciation happens in the first two years of ownership. So if you don't need that new-car smell, you can experience a substantial discount buying used. In the olden days, you'd need to have your used car checked out by a reputable mechanic in order to ensure it's in good working order. But most car dealerships and manufacturers offer "Certified Pre-Owned" vehicles, which meet a rigorous checklist for safety, mechanics, and appearance. So you know that if you're buying a Certified used car from BMW, it's going to meet their high standards.
If you prefer a new car, there are several options for savings. You can leverage the power of volume by buying your car through services offered by big-box chains including Costco, and most credit unions not only offer financing but car-buying services as well. If you do go through one of these methods, you won't need to worry about visiting a dealer and haggling to get the best price; it's already negotiated for you. Another way to get a great price on a new vehicle is through websites like Cars.com or Carsdirect. Not only do they provide tools to search for, research, and compare pricing and options on any make or model you can imagine, but you can request pricing on a specific model with the options you want from local dealers. Then, dealerships in your area will contact you with a flat price, usually from their Fleet or Internet Department. This means that you can head into the dealership with the best price and buy a car, no negotiating necessary. Or, if you like to bargain the best deal possible, you can use those quotes to leverage the dealers against each other, possibly getting an even better price.