Debunked! 10 Car Buying Myths That Won’t Actually Save You Money

Discover how believing these car buying myths can steer you wrong financially.

Woman buying a car
Updated June 6, 2024
Fact checked

We receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

Buying a car can be a high-ticket item that you’ll want to do research on to avoid wasting your money.

You might find great ways to save money on a new or used car, like manufacturer’s discounts or buying a vehicle at certain times of the year. But what advice won’t help you?

Here are a few car-buying myths you can leave by the side of the road when you pick out your new or new-to-you car.

If you’re over 50, take advantage of massive discounts and financial resources

Over 50? Join AARP today — because if you’re not a member you could be missing out on huge perks. When you start your membership today, you can get discounts on things like travel, meal deliveries, eyeglasses, prescriptions that aren’t covered by insurance and more.

How to become a member today:

  • Go here, select your free gift, and click “Join Today”
  • Create your account (important!) by answering a few simple questions
  • Start enjoying your discounts and perks!

Important: Start your membership by creating an account here and filling in all of the information (Do not skip this step!) Doing so will allow you to take up 25% off your AARP membership, making it just $12 per year with auto-renewal.

Become an AARP member now

Get outside financing

joyfotoliakid/Adobe sales agent signs car loan contract

You may think it’s a good idea to come into the car-buying process with a loan already approved by a lender like your bank or financial institution. However, the dealer could help you save more money.

Compare your options before committing to one or the other, and remember that the dealer may be incentivized to give you a good deal by the company’s financing to get your business.

Sign a longer deal for less per month

Jirapong/Adobe man sitting at table with files and documents using calculator

You might think it’s a good idea to get a longer loan if you can pay less per month when you’re low on cash, but longer deals could hurt you in the long run.

You could incur more in interest costs by holding on to the loan longer, and you may also need to cover additional costs for maintenance and repair of your vehicle.

Those costs could add up, especially the longer you hold on to your car.

Buy a car at the end of the month

Paolese/Adobe young woman learning to drive car

Many people think they’ll have more leverage to negotiate a good deal if they wait until the end of the month to buy a car.

Unfortunately, there isn’t as much incentive to buy at the end of the month compared to any other time of the month. Anyone selling a car can only do so much, no matter how much they want the sale.

So keep an eye out for deals and be ready to go regardless of what day of the month your car is on sale.

Resolve $10,000 or more of your debt

Credit card debt is suffocating. It constantly weighs on your mind and controls every choice you make. You can end up emotionally and even physically drained from it. And even though you make regular payments, it feels like you can never make any progress because of the interest.

National Debt Relief could help you resolve your credit card debt with an affordable plan that works for you. Just tell them your situation, then find out your debt relief options.1

How to get National Debt Relief to help you resolve your debt: Sign up for a free debt assessment here. (Do not skip this step!) By signing up for a free assessment, National Debt Relief can assist you in settling your debt, but only if you schedule the assessment.

Try it

Threaten to walk out to get a good deal

Maksym Povozniuk/Adobe couple buying a new car

You might think you can pressure the salesperson at a dealership by walking out in exchange for getting a good deal.

But dealers now include the price of the car online, so you should be prepared with the costs of your potential vehicles before you even walk in the door.

Threatening to walk out might show you don’t know what to expect from the dealer and won’t help you keep more money in the bank.

Wait until the end of the year for a good deal

Rido/Adobe couple buying new car at car dealership

You might think it’s good to wait until the end of the year when dealerships have to switch to new models, but dealerships typically aren’t willing to take a loss at any time.

You also might be surprised to find out that car dealerships usually switch to the new model year around September, four months before the actual year.

Instead of waiting until the end of the year, keep an eye on deals you can take advantage of throughout the year or buy a car when you need one.

A new car is better than a used car

standret/Adobe man with woman in white clothes are in the car dealership

You may be willing to spend a little more to get a new car, but don’t dismiss other options, especially used cars.

Used cars may only be a few years old or have limited miles on them. You also won’t have to worry about that initial depreciation in cost, which can be around 20% of a new car’s value in the first year of ownership.

Buy a car when it’s raining

cristovao31/Adobe man holding a red umbrella

You may think you have a great plan to shop for a car when it’s raining because customers won’t venture out in the rain, and dealers will want to finish a sale quickly.

But plenty of other buyers think it’s a great plan, which may cause the dealership to be busier than usual and not really affect the price of a car.

Get a car with low mileage

rh2010/Adobe couple signing documents at the car dealership

Buying a used car could mean you’ll want a low-mile vehicle as a top priority. But it’s good to take into account other considerations than just mileage. 

A car with higher mileage that’s been well maintained and hadn’t been in an accident may be better than a car with low mileage and an accident history or low mileage with little preventative maintenance.

It’s also important to check on the best deals for car insurance as some cars with lower mileage may still cost you more to cover with car insurance than other models with higher mileage.

Pay with cash

fotofabrika/Adobe customer buys a new car in a dealership

You may think coming in ready to pay the full amount in cash could get you a better deal, but cash might not be king in some cases.

Instead, make sure you have a good credit score, which could open more avenues of financing for you. And it’s a good idea to check with the dealer about other incentives and options.

Earn cash back on everyday purchases with this rare account

Want to earn cash back on your everyday purchases without using a credit card? With the Discover®️ Cashback Debit Checking account (member FDIC), you can earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month!2

With no credit check to apply and no monthly fees to worry about, you can earn nearly passive income on purchases you’re making anyway — up to an extra $360 a year!

This rare checking account has other great perks too, like access to your paycheck up to 2 days early with Early Pay, no minimum deposit or monthly balance requirements, over 60K fee-free ATMs, and the ability to add cash to your account at Walmart stores nationwide.

Don’t leave money on the table — it only takes minutes to apply and it won’t impact your credit score.

Apply for a Discover Cashback Checking account today

You can trick the dealer into a good deal

Vasyl/Adobe couple at car dealership

You may have great negotiating skills, but remember that you usually only buy one new car every few years.

Dealers, however, are used to negotiating deals daily and know all the tricks you think will work just for you.

Feel free to negotiate, but also be honest and upfront, which will make it easier for the salesperson to help you get the car you want. Save the hard negotiating to save money on your car insurance.

Bottom line

georgerudy/Adobe visiting car dealership

It’s important to research when you shop for a big-ticket item like a car to find out what you should do and avoid.

When creating a budget for your new car, remember to factor in gas, maintenance, insurance, and other costs. This can eliminate a lot of money stress from having a new car.

  • You could save up to $600 with some companies
  • Compare dozens of providers in under 5 minutes
  • Fast, free and easy way to shop for insurance
  • Quickly find the perfect rate for you

Author Details

Jenny Cohen

Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.