June 18, 2014 by Bill Johnson
You may be ready to “go green” to save money on fuel, but it’s easy to end up with a little sticker shock when you see the prices listed on the car’s window. Alternative fuel vehicles typically cost more than their conventional counterparts. You can often make up for that price difference in ownership costs over the long term, but don’t let that stop you from shopping around for a great deal. Here are five steps to help you get the best price possible when you buy a green car.
Assess your total cost of ownership
Because alternative fuel cars are cheaper to own than their gasoline counterparts, thinking about the total amount of money you will spend on car expenses, versus just the sale price, is even more important. In addition to calculating your car payment, you’ll need to make cost estimates for your fuel, depreciation, maintenance andrepairs, as well as auto insurance.
It’s easy to get estimates for these costs online with a few handy tools. For insurance, go online for a custom quote or call your agent. For fuel costs, the handy Vehicle Cost Calculator from the Alternative Fuels Data Center at the Department of Energy helps compare cars with different powertrains, such as an electric car to a gasoline car.
Don’t assume you qualify for the lease deal or the low interest rate
The deals that are often shown in advertisements usually have stringent credit requirements, and/or hefty down payments. Generally, only about 10 percent of car shoppers qualify for the best deals offered in advertisements, so unless your credit is top notch, you may not be able to get it.
That actually might not be a bad thing, especially if the deal requires putting thousands of dollars down and you don’t have a car to trade in.
Shop around for the best interest rate
Don’t assume that the dealership can get you the best interest rate, either. Get quotes from national lenders online and contact your local lenders to see what they can offer. Don’t forget credit unions, which often offer the best interest rates on car loans.
Even if you do qualify for that zero-percent or low interest loan from the dealer, you may still save money in the long run by taking the cash rebate and getting your loan elsewhere. If a dealer offers an interest rate that seems to good to be true, exercise caution and be sure you are not signing a contract that says the rate is contingent upon approval.
Read more: How To Find The Best Deal On A Green Car