5 tips to help you buy a car

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - If you're buying a new or used car, the small time frame in which you negotiate the price and payments with the dealer could equal either big savings or extra costs. It all depends on whether you're prepared.

NewsChannel 5 created the top 5 things you should know before buying a car, with help from independent auto leaser Steve Sternberg, who has more than 15 years experience with dealers and buyers.

"You don't want to divulge too much initially," he said.

First, know your credit score before you shop at a dealer,

Special interest rates, like 0% APR are usually offered to those with a favorable credit rating.

"If there's some problems with your credit, know ahead of time so you can discuss it frankly and see if something can be resolved," said Sternberg.

Second,  know  the car's value.

The National Automobile Dealers Association database, along with the Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds.com can give you a price range for the car you're looking to buy and for your trade in.

Third, bring your smartphone with you.

You can get those price ranges from those companies apps, plus, it makes shopping easy. You can be emailing a dozen dealers in a 100 mile radius, asking for a quote on the same vehicle you're considering.

Fourth, don't talk about down payment or monthly payments up front.

Your down payment is a bargaining chip, so don't use it too early. Wait until you know the "out the door" price. If you tell a dealer what you think your monthly payments should be, then they could modify the length of the loan, even raise the APR. Look at the final cost to see if the monthly payment falls into your budget, then negotiate.

Fifth, get everything in writing.

"Many dealers won't because they're concerned about taking that to someone else and showing them," said Sternberg.

A deal at the beginning might not be the same deal at the end. With so many numbers being tossed around during your negotiating, take the time to get the offer in writing, remember, you're in control.

Use these 5 tips and you could be driving away with a new or used car, at a price that fits your budget.

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