Consumer Protection Weeks FACTS: “C” is for Cars


Contact: James Hallinan (505) 660-2216

It’s always worth the time to think, to choose carefully, and understand every part of your commitment to buy a car

Albuquerque, NM – As part of National Consumer Protection Week, Attorney General Hector Balderas wants New Mexicans to get the FACTS when it comes to Cars. Purchasing a car is the largest purchase many New Mexicans undertake, so it’s crucial that consumers make informed decisions during their car shopping process.

“The most important tool for car shopping is to know what you can afford,” said Attorney General Hector Balderas. “Know your finance options and your overall family budget before you begin to shop. That way you won’t get in over your head purchasing a car without considering all your income and expenses.”

Attorney General Balderas suggests these additional steps to protect yourself as you shop and before entering an agreement to purchase a car:

  • Follow this rule of thumb: Your car payment should not exceed 15% of your take-home pay. The 15% threshold should include operating expenses such as repairs, fuel and required vehicle insurance. While you are calculating whether you can afford to buy a car, make sure to ask your dealer about the year, make, and model of the vehicle and consider additional costs or add-ons to the contract.
  • Do your research to determine which vehicle is right for you. Doing research ahead of time will help you in making an informed decision on purchasing your ideal vehicle and help avoid costly surprises.
  • Make sure you get the book value for your trade in vehicle in order to maximize the value you receive.
  • When financing, ask about the total cost of the loan—make sure you understand the total amount you will pay over the life of the loan. Often times a small increase in monthly payment can mean a significant amount added to the total cost.

To protect yourself from scams and unfair deals:

  • Make sure the financing is secure before you sign the contract and drive away with the vehicle. Taking possession of the car before the loan is approved by the lender could put the deal you thought you had at risk;
  • Ask if the car has any damage or has ever been in an accident;
  • Make sure you are getting the deal you agreed to by taking your time in reviewing paperwork;
  • Be sure all documents are filled out entirely and correctly;
  • Ensure that you receive copies of all documents signed by you and the cosigner (if applicable);
  • Don’t accept oral promises. All terms of your agreement to buy your vehicle should be in writing and signed by the dealer;
  • ALWAYS get a receipt for your down payment;
  • If you’re unsure, ask questions. Don’t ever sign a document you don’t understand.

Taking these steps can make all the difference in the car you purchase, your ability to pay, your home budget, and your credit rating. It’s always worth the time to think, to choose carefully and understand every part of your commitment to buy a car. Cars are often an essential tool in building a solid employment framework. Being careful with this purchase can be a solid first step for New Mexico consumers building a path to financial success.

The Office of the Attorney General has help and information during National Consumer Protection Week — March 4-10, 2018 — and any time of the year. Consumers can always contact the Office of the Attorney General anytime at or by calling 1-844-255-9210.

Attorney General Balderas will have consumer advocates and charities advisors on hand, as well as valuable consumer protection information available on Friday, March 9, 2018 in the lobby of the downtown Albuquerque Office of the Attorney General. Consumers are encouraged to walk in and will have the opportunity to have their questions answered, concerns heard, and receive assistance in filing a consumer complaint between 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM on Friday. The Office of the Attorney General is located at 201 Third Street NW, in the ABQ Plaza building.

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