FOOL'S SCHOOL DAILY Q&A

Fax Your Way to a New Car

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By Selena Maranjian (TMF Selena)
May 13, 2003

Q. I've heard of your "Fool Fax-a-thon" method of getting a good price on a car by faxing a bunch of dealerships. Can you give me a sample of the kind of letter to use?

A. Sure can. Here's one, below. Note, though, that the Internet has come a long way since we first wrote about the Fax-a-thon method. Today you might very well get a good price just by typing a few particulars into a website. I'll offer some good car resources later, but first, here's the sample letter (which worked well for me, four years ago!).

(date)

Dear (Fleet Manager's Name � or "Sir or Madam," if you don't have a name),

I am looking to buy a new car this week. On the second page of this fax, please find a listing of the specific vehicle features I'd like included with the vehicle when I make my purchase.

I'm faxing this letter to many dealerships in a wide radius. Over the next three days, I'll be taking bids from any dealers interested in my business. After selecting the most attractive bid, I will formally secure financing for purchase within one week.

If you bid, please include all costs, and itemize these costs specifically to the options that I have listed on the next page. The bid should also include an itemized listing of all other fees and tax liabilities, including dealership preparation fees, title costs, and licensing fees. Any bid that is incomplete or not per the option listing will not be considered in my purchase decision. If you have an option package alternative or other changes, please list these as a separate bid and note the exact specifics of the changes in the bid.

I have not "shopped" your dealership in more than one year, and have had no sales contact with any employees operating in the dealership's interest during that time. Because of this, please consider this bid to be a "house sale." In addition to that, I will accept no bids after (time) on (date).

I thank you for your time and interest. If you choose to bid, please fax your fully itemized bids to (your first name) at (XXX) XXX-XXXX. I look forward to doing business with you.

(your signature)

(your name printed here)

Note: Make sure that you do not include your phone number. You don't want to negotiate over the phone. You just want to receive faxed bids.

Okay, now as promised, here are a host of good car-buying resources:

For extremely detailed and easy-to-read information on how to save a lot of money, check out our own How to Buy a Car content.

Here are some sites where you can research details on specific cars, as well as get general advice and information: CarsDirect.com, Edmunds, Autobytel.com, MSN Carpoint, Autoweb.com, and Autosite.comConsumer Reports is a for-pay site, costing about $24 per year. It can be well worth it, though, as it features a wealth of information on all kinds of other products.

Look up the crash test results of vehicles you're considering at National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, CrashTest.com, and HwySafety.org.

For info on car loans and leasing cars, there are many sites to visit. Just a few samples: LeaseSource, Bankrate.com, PeopleFirst, eLoan and The Automobile Association of America.

If you're considering a used car, drop by CarFax for a vehicle history report on your potential new wheels. Also consult the Kelly Blue Book for new and used car prices.

As you prepare to buy a car, don't forget to get tips on car insurance! Here are some of many sites with information on car insurance: Insure.com. InsWeb, Progressive, GEICO, State Farm, LowerMyBills.com, and The Automobile Association of America. The Fool has an Insurance Center, too.

Finally, there's a lot of car-related media to check out. The Car Talk radio show has a website, as does Motor Trend, Car and Driver, AutoWeek, and Automobile.

If you have any questions on the car-buying process, ask them on our Buying and Maintaining a Car discussion board.

If you have any questions, thoughts or opinions on this column, share them with others on our Ask the Fool discussion board.

This question and answer is adapted from The Motley Fool Money Guide: Answers to Your Questions About Saving, Spending and Investing. For answers to this and 499 other common money questions, check it out -- it's a handy resource.