Buying a car in a recession

April 1, 2009 8:40:38 PM PDT
Donald Batista is in the market for a second car. He knows that a used car can be a better value.

But with a growing list of incentives on new cars, like zero percent financing and even cash back, the price difference between a new car and a used car is changing.

"Some customers are going to dealerships looking for a new car and finding a used car is similarly priced," said Brain Moody, senior editor at Edmunds.com.

In this weakened economy, dealers like Tarrytown Honda see new car sales flat, but used car sales up 50 percent.

"Used car values have gone up. Cars are harder to find. Therefore, dealers have to pay more. Therefore, the consumer ends up paying more," owner Dwight Dachnowicz said.

So what do you look for?

"We recommend that people take a look at the overall ownership costs not just the cost to acquire the vehicle," said Jeff Bartlett of Consumer Reports.

Also compare dollars and features.

"A late model car -- that is a car that reflects the recent engineering features, that's going to perform and deliver the fuel economy that you would expect from a new car," Bartlett explained.

"The important thing to do is do a lot of research ahead of time. Figure out what type of car works for you and figure out what your price point is and don't budge from that," Moody said.

Certified used cars, consumer experts say, most often offer a warranty from the manufacturer.

You can find more information about car buying tips and advice from Edmunds.com at http://www.edmunds.com/car-advice.html.

Consumer Reports also offers an online car buying guide at http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/cars/car-buying-advice/index.htm

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