Top 5 Ways to Get a Good Deal on a Car

A customer looks at a new Chrysler 300 on a dealer lot in Dearborn, Mich.

AP Photo/Paul Sancya

Buying a car is no trivial matter. If you don't plan to buy a house, a car may very well be the most expensive purchase you'll ever make -- one that you'll spend several years paying off. And unless your bank account is somewhere in the neighborhood of Warren Buffett's or maybe Scrooge McDuck's, you don't want to spend more money than you really need to.

But car buying can also be an intimidating experience. How do you know you're getting a good deal? How can you be sure you aren't making some crucial mistake that will lead to spending thousands of dollars more than you have to in order to get the car of your dreams? There's no magic formula for getting the best deal on a car, but on the next few pages we'll give you some common sense tips for improving your chances of getting a terrific car without driving yourself (literally) to bankruptcy.