MILWAUKEE — When you're shopping for a car, make sure to stick to your budget.
Attorney Karen Bauer, with Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee, said realistically, most people can afford about 25 percent of their take home pay.
One of the biggest mistakes she sees consumers make when purchasing a used vehicle is buying more of a vehicle than they can afford, simply because a salesperson was willing to finance them for it.
Bauer handles a lot of cases involving auto fraud and offers the following recommendations she gives to her clients if they're in the market to buy a used vehicle.
- Get your finances figured out before you walk into the dealership
"Your negotiation at the dealership should only be about the price of that car, not your monthly payment," Bauer said.
- The older the car, the shorter amount of time you want to be paying for it. Also, avoid high interest rates.
"The way that they get those monthly payments down, is by stretching out those loans. No one should be buying an 8-year-old car and paying for it for 5 or 6 years," Bauer said.
- As part of the test drive, take the car to your own mechanic
"Very few people do this and 80 percent of the cases that I see here at legal aid could have been avoided by taking that legal step," she explained.
- Don't be in a rush to sign paperwork
"You should be taking that contract home and saying, 'I'll come back in the morning after I've had a chance to read it,'" Bauer said.
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