3 ways to save money when buying or renting a car

October 9, 2015

Buying, leasing, or renting a vehicle is a large investment, but there are ways to save yourself significant expense. We'll give you some pointers to help you get from point A to point B with a little extra in your pocket.

3 ways to save money when buying or renting a car

1. Take caution around protective treatments or programs

  • Don't let a car salesman sell you on protection programs that promise to keep your car looking shiny and new for years to come. Why? They're often scams designed to dazzle you with impressive-sounding treatments like "polymer paint sealant" that add little actual value to your car.
  • Many of these treatments are guaranteed for five years, when in fact even the best sealants will only last for 6 to 12 months. The dealerships are simply banking on the fact that you won't come back in to touch up any mischievous markings that appear on your car.
  • An unscrupulous dealer may tell you that the polymer you're using is resistant to bird droppings, but bird droppings can still appear under the "exclusions" portion of the fine print. Always read everything!

2. Pass on rust-proofing

When your car salesman offers to sell you rust protection for your new car, take a pass. Cars are made so well nowadays that this protection is a waste of your money. Stick to your guns and don't let the salesperson's warnings about road salt rattle you.

3. Strategically book your rental car

  • Many popular vacation destinations don't stock enough compact and economy vehicles to fill the needs of everyone who wants to save money by renting a smaller automobile. This can work out to your advantage.
  • If you're headed to a big-time tourist mecca, your best bet is to book the smallest car possible. You're not the only one looking to save a buck, and therefore the smallest cars will likely be the first ones off of the lot.
  • If all of the smaller cars are gone by the time you arrive at the rental office, the company will give you a free upgrade.
  • What if your ploy doesn't work and the car rental agency hasn't run out of the tiny cars? Don't worry. If you really want a larger car, just tell the counter representative that you've changed your mind. They'll be happy to upgrade you to a larger car.
  • Remember that upgrading to a larger car is much easier than downgrading to an economy model.

Try to remember that dealerships and rental companies have different goals than you do. They want to make the largest sale possible. Use these tips and research diligently. If you keep your eyes open for good deals and negotiate effectively, you can save a large amount of money when purchasing or renting a vehicle. Happy driving!

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