1. Choose the exact vehicle you want to buy or lease before you discuss price. Research this carefully and take your time. Consumer Reports is your best guide. Test drive the exact year, make and model vehicle for several hours, at least. Do not discuss price at this stage under any circumstances.

2. Go online to find your lowest price. The 2 best resources arewww.TrueCar.com and www.CostcoAuto.com. There’s no charge from TrueCar but you must be a paid member of Costco.

3. You should also check the best price with at least 3 dealerships. Deal only with their Internet departments. Insist on an out-the-door price plus GOVERNMENT FEES only. Beware of hidden fees by various names, collectively referred to as “dealer fees”. Beware of DEALER installed options added to the quoted price.

4. Shop and compare interest rates and terms with your bank and your credit union. Never rely on dealer financing without comparing it with your bank or credit union.

5. Get the true value of your trade-in by pretending that you want to sell to dealers who sell the same make as your trade. CarMax is also a good place to bet a bid on your trade-in. Remember to deal with the used car manager of the dealership and tell him you are selling your car and do not want to buy another.

6. Once you’ve determined the dealership that apparently has the best price, visit that dealership to confirm things are on the “up and up”. If they try to add anything to their quoted price except FEES THEY MUST PAY TO THE GOVERNMENT which can only be sales tax and license plate, LEAVE. Offer this dealer your trade-in if he will match your best price and your financing if he can beat your bank or credit union. One caveat on the trade-in…Florida and most states offer a sales tax savings for the trade-in allowance. Be sure that your third-party trade-in offer allows for this.

I guarantee you that if you follow these six simple rules, you will never again be ripped off by a car dealer.

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