How to Save Money When Buying a Car, Part II

Buying a car may be expensive, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are a few more common sense ways to save.

Buying a car doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Now, there’s no doubt that it’s going to cost an arm at least, no matter what you do; that’s just the nature of any huge purchase. But the other metaphorical extremity is optional.

In Part I of this article, we looked over a few ways to limit the outlay for a new car. In this exciting episode, we’ll look at other ways to save, both in the short- and long-term.

Consider a used car

Most financial experts will tell you that if you want to save money, you should always purchase a used car. Not me. As I pointed out in Part I, there are some cases where a new car is better, especially if you own a business, can’t afford maintenance on an older car, or depend on absolute reliability.

There are, however, good reasons to turn to a used car–the newer the better, of course. First of all, it’s going to be cheaper than a new model; that’s a given. Second, it’s been through its shakedown period. Most of the mechanical problems have been found and fixed.

Plus, depreciation is less of a bugbear for used cars; and with the current economy, there are lots of choices available. Given all the lease programs out there, many of those used cars are practically brand new.

How about those hybrids!

Gas/electric hybrids are economical in several ways. The most obvious is the fact that you end up paying less for gas, of course; but a more immediate reason is that you get a tax break from the government if you buy one.

The size of the federal tax credit varies, with a peak of about $3,400–certainly nothing to sneeze at. And most people don’t realize that in many cases, you can get a tax credit for buying a relatively new used hybrid, too. And then there are the state tax credits; don’t pass those by, because they can be substantial.

Admittedly, it’s still hard to get a hybrid, because they’re in such demand. But if you’re willing to get on a waiting list or you otherwise have the opportunity to get a hybrid vehicle, I’d say to snatch it up. It’s just another way to make buying a car less painful than it has to be.