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Floundering Auto Industry = Good for Grads

By Chris Zoia

Automobile sales plunged this summer due to the high price of oil and the short supply of fuel-efficient cars. If you’re looking to nab a new set of wheels, work this recent slump in the car industry to your advantage.

Recent grads should keep these points in mind if they want to buy a (used) car without running up more debt:

  • Go green. Fuel efficient cars are the new frontier, and they’ll be a huge investment in the long run. Seriously consider getting a hybrid; who knows if gas will get cheaper any time soon.
  • Stay away from SUVs. There is no reason why anyone would need an enormous gas-guzzler right out of college. Not only do these tanks cause the sky to fall down behind you, but the amount of fuel they devour is simply not affordable.
  • Foreign whip appeal. While sometimes it pays to be patriotic, think twice about buying from the traditional Big Three US automakers. Asian cars are generally more fuel-efficient and have more hybrid options than their American counterparts.
  • Less is more. Ever noticed how in Europe everybody drives the real-life equivalent of a Micro-Machine? It’s not a fashion statement. Small cars have better mileage (i.e., they're cheaper at the pump), so swallow your pride and opt for less space. Your wallet will thank you.
  • Can you really afford a car right now? If you live in an urban area where public transportation is good, maybe you can get by sans wheels. Read these guidelines for determining if you need a car.

For more info on how to buy a car, check out one of our survival guides.

Auto Sales Plunge [via CNN Money]

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