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The best time is here to buy a car

Tinesh Bhasin | March 31, 2009 10:24 IST

This is the first of a four-part series on how to strike the best deals in auto loans, home loans, fixed deposits and insurance products with guaranteed returns.

If you're planning to buy a car, now's the time to head for a dealer since, with the financial year ending, there are many value bargains to avail yourself of.

Over the past few quarters, the auto industry's sales had been badly hit due to the recession. As a result, auto companies, distributors as well as direct selling agents are doing their best now to sweeten the deal for prospective customers. That translates into a lot of discounts, including free mats, seat covers and discounts on loans too.

Some are even willing to finance up to 100 per cent of the car price. Let's take a look at some of these offers and how customers can add up all of them to get the best deal.

Cash discount: The cash discount can vary from Rs 25,000-45,000. A lot of factors impact this - the model, the manufacturer, value of purchase, amount of down payment and, most important, the dealer's inventory. To avail of a better discount, you may need to choose from the various models and colours that are available at the showroom.

Interest rate discount: Some of the sellers are willing to offer a discount on the quoted fixed interest rates. "During the year-end, a discount of 0.25 per cent can be availed of easily," said one direct selling agent.

100-per-cent finance: This scheme came to a halt around September-October due to liquidity problems. Now some dealers and DSAs are willing to arrange 100 per cent finance for salaried persons, based on their income levels. Obviously, 100 per cent does not mean you will not need to shell out a single dime.

"There is a catch. The customer needs to pay for the insurance, registration, stamp duty and service charges. The buyer will also need to shell out 1-3 equated monthly instalments based on the tenure of the loan,"'s managing director Harsh Roongta said. That means the upfront EMI will increase with the loan's tenure. For a three-year loan, banks charge one EMI in advance.

If you intend to make a down payment for your car purchase, be prepared to shell out 15-20 per cent of the car's value. Also, you will be asked to pay for life insurance and personal accident cover.

EMI waiver: This can happen, especially with regard to a single EMI when purchasing the car through DSAs. You see, DSAs get one EMI as commission. Some of them are willing to pass this benefit on to their customers. So ask for this.

This is not the only source of income for DSAs. Some of them also get commissions from dealers.

Free car insurance: Yes, this one is a regular feature. But this may not be free in case of cash discounts. So you need to bargain. Dealers are either agents of insurance companies or they have a tie-up. Make use of this fact and try to get a free insurance. The cost of car insurance will vary, depending on the model and the insurance company.

Accessories: These too may be a regular feature, but not all dealers may offer these unless specifically asked for. Free accessories include matting, music system, car perfume, seat covers and others.

But, remember that discount on accessories should not come to you at the cost of the cash discount. That's because the dealer has his own arrangements with the accessories providers for a discount. The idea is to get both.

Of course, you may not get these discounts in one go. A little more haggling than usual may be needed. So, do your research, add up the benefits offered and compare. Zero in on the one that suits you the best.

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