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In the Market for a New or Used Car?

These 3 Tips Will Save You Time and Money in 2017

When the calendar turns over to mark a new year and Presidents Day (Feb. 20 this year) comes up, auto dealers across the country offer special deals on new and used vehicles. Whether you’re thinking about purchasing a new set of wheels or learning how to keep your current one in top condition, these three tips can help maintain the vehicle’s quality and save you time and money in 2017.

  1. Shop informed.  

Before hitting the car lot to scope out the best deal, make sure you understand what products you’ll need to protect your overall investment. One of the best ways to protect yourself from a worst-case scenario is with a GAP waiver. If disaster does hit and you’re left with a totaled or stolen vehicle, a GAP waiver can cover some or all of the difference between the car’s actual value and the balance of your car loan (which may be much higher). No one expects their car to be totaled, but it happens – and if it does, you don’t want to be left paying off a loan for a car you can no longer drive. GAP waivers are offered at the dealership or financing institution at the time of purchase.

  1. Consider a used car.  

Most shoppers accept that buying a new car means they’re paying a hefty “new car smell” premium. To save on average $13,500, consider shopping for a used car instead. Tools like Carfax will help you check a vehicle’s history so you can make the best determination about the quality of the used car you’re considering. However, many used cars come without the benefit of a manufacturer’s warranty, so shoppers should go into the transaction with a plan for repairs. One great option, of course, is to have a savings account so you can put aside money for repairs when they’re needed. If that’s not feasible, consider a service contract. Piled on top of car payments, insurance and other life expenses, just one repair bill can put a major dent in your wallet without some plan in place to cover the cost.

  1. Prepare for the worst; hope for the best.

Let’s be honest – most Americans don’t save for the next car breakdown. As cars age, they will need more repairs. According to the auto repair website CarMD, the most common vehicle repair for U.S. consumers is replacing an oxygen sensor, which on average can cost a manageable $250. However, the No. 2 repair, replacing a catalytic converter, can cost five times as much – and studies have shown that almost two-thirds of Americans do not have enough savings to cover even a $500 emergency. A service contract can help cover the cost of vehicle repairs and necessary replacements – and can be purchased anytime.