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Car Buying Season: Tips for a Smart Purchase

It's the time of year when the latest and greatest from auto manufacturers start to hit the road. If you're in the market for some new wheels, keep some do's and don'ts in mind when negotiating with a dealer.
It's the time of year when the latest and greatest from auto manufacturers start to hit the road. If you're in the market for some new wheels, keep some do's and don'ts in mind when negotiating with a dealer.

September brings a new season, a new school year, new TV shows and - its also when many of the latest auto models arrive in showrooms.
Navigating the auto buying process can be tricky, especially if you only do it once every few years.

Consumer Reports recommends doing research before heading to the dealership.
-- identify the model, trim level and options that you want.
-- and get a good idea of what a good price is.
-- round up quotes from a selection of dealers, and pinpoint the one that looks most promising
-- and get pre-approved for an auto loan or if you'll finance through the dealer have a good idea of competitive interest rates.

At the dealership, keep some do's and don'ts in mind.
-- don't buy unnecessary extras. Sometimes they'll be pre-printed on a sales contract, so read carefully.
-- don't jump at the extended warranty. Know the vehicle's reliability record and weigh whether it's necessary.
-- do bring a calculator to do your own math - and make sure the dealer's numbers match.
-- and do be prepared to walk out...

Consumer Reports says showing willingness to walk away can be effective in getting the deal -- and the wheels -- you really want.


(Karin Caifa for CNN's Consumer Watch)

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