Car closing: what to bring when buying a car

What do you need to bring to the car dealership when closing the deal? Here's a checklist:

  1. Valid driver's license
  2. Proof of insurance
  3. Checkbook (and a credit card for part of the down payment if they'll let you—get the points!)
  4. Pre-approved check or letter with interest rate
  5. Vehicle Registration for your trade-in
  6. Title or loan documentation
  7. Your trade-in, including all spare keys and manuals. Optional: any regular maintenance documentation that may help establish a higher value.
  8. Trade-in appraisal (so you can use it to negotiate and get more for your trade-in)
  9. The salesman's email with the specification of the car and agreed upon price (assuming you followed the steps to find the best car price BEFORE heading to the dealership).

And #10, a full stomach.  The negotiations are not quite over.  Even though you've settled on the price of a car, it's not time to relax just yet.  Be prepared for a few hours at the dealership to negotiate your trade-in and financing and sign paperwork.  Handling the Finance Office correctly can save you almost as much money as negotiating a good car price.

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