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Buying a new car? Here are 5 tips from the BBB for getting it right

Fresno Bee file illustration

Q: I am looking to purchase a new car. I’ve never had a brand-new one, so I’m a little nervous about the entire process. It’s so much money and I don’t want to make any mistakes. Can you offer some advice on what to do when you are buying a new car?


A: What an exciting event, your first new car! Congratulations! I’m glad you are looking for good information to help you make a wise buying decision. BBB offers these tips on buying a new car.

Check out the dealer – Go to All you need is the name of the company, address or phone. You will find that BBB usually has a business profile on most new-car dealers. You can check their rating, whether or not the dealer is accredited,if they have any complaints or customer reviews and much more. Auto dealers are required to be licensed by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Make sure you verify their license. If the dealer also does auto repairs, they are required to be licensed by the California Bureau of Automotive Repair. Again, check the license. Make sure it is clear and current.

Compare – On most dealer sites, you will find: loan calculators, inventory information as well as pricing and incentives. Don’t be afraid to get quotes from more than one dealer. BBB has always recommended comparative shopping. Make sure you compare apples to apples to get your best value and price.

Consumer Reports rates products and can help you look at the reliability of the vehicle as well as safety ratings and other helpful information. Check out their website,

How much is your trade-in worth? – Try, the National Automobile Dealers Association ( or

Take a test drive – It’s important to see if the car fits you.

Get a deal – Don’t let a dealer know up front that you have a trade-in. Negotiate the price of the new car first. Bring a calculator and don’t let the sales person push the negotiations toward the monthly payment. Get the final price first.

Don’t be pressured into buying extras. Consumer Reports advises that you should not buy unnecessary extras, such as corrosion protection, paint sealant, fabric protection and window etching of the vehicle identification number. You usually don’t need these services or can get them for less money later. Sometimes, VIN etching is preprinted on the sales contract. But if you don’t want it, simply cross it out, decline to pay for it, and have the dealer recalculate the total.

If you are not 100 percent comfortable with the purchase process, you always have the option to walk. Do it BEFORE you sign. This is always an option.

Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 2600 W. Shaw Lane, Fresno, CA 93711 or