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Every week, join Whitney Quick as she helps you navigate life as a smart consumer. You'll cover everything in avoiding the latest scams, including phishing emails, medical equipment fraud, understanding layaway, hiring a reputable tax preparer, and even digital spring cleaning. Add to your toolbox and flip through your Consumer Handbook Thursdays during NPR’s Morning Edition at 6:42 a.m. and 8:42 a.m., only on KRCU.

Consumer Handbook: Avoid the "yo-yo" when buying a car

Happy family came to a successful agreement with salesperson while buying a car in a showroom.
skynesher/Getty Images
Happy family came to a successful agreement with salesperson while buying a car in a showroom.

Multiple car buyers have experienced the “yo-yo” – when a car buyer signs papers and takes the car off the lot, only to have the dealership announce later that the financing fell through, the deal is invalid, and the car must be returned or refinanced at a different rate. By this point, the buyers may have sold or traded in their previous vehicle, causing them to feel trapped.

Here are some tips to help you with your car-buying decision: Do your research. Before you go, you should know the make and model you want and if you want a used or a new car. Be sure to check state and province laws before making a final decision. Determine financing options. Decide how you plan to finance the car. Before arriving at the dealership, consider looking online at the best deals to stay on a budget that works for you.

Visit the dealership in person to see the vehicle and even take the car for a test drive. Negotiate the best rate. Ask questions regarding warranties, trade-ins, service contracts, and other add-on services. Ensure you have a clear understanding of your deal before you sign. If a dealer attempts a yo-yo situation, ask the dealer if they can work with you versus returning the car or paying a higher rate.

Never do handshake deals; get documentation of everything to ensure that your purchase is official. Do not be afraid to walk away if you don't feel comfortable; you do not have to do business with a shady dealer.

Cape Girardeau native Whitney Quick is the Regional Director of Better Business Bureau in Cape Girardeau, MO, and is responsible for outreach efforts in Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois. Quick is a graduate of Cape Girardeau Central High School and Southeast Missouri University where she majored in public relations. Quick enjoys helping educate consumers in the southeast Missouri region by sharing consumer tips with groups and educating them about BBB’s resources.