Car Buying

Car buying has changed so much over the years it’s almost impossible to mess up unless you aren’t prepared.  So many dealerships offer haggle and hassle free pricing to make it easier for you to learn more about the car you want from your salesperson rather than feeling as if you need to negotiate the price one way or another.  Whether it’s a certified preowned or a new car, without having to argue over pricing you can be sure you come away from the dealership with the car you want, but you have to understand what not to do just as much as what to do when shopping for a car.

Know What You Want

The salespeople at dealerships are willing to be as friendly and helpful to you as possible, but it’s still their job to sell you a car off their lot.  It’s a good idea on your part to start your search at home.  With reviews, lists of features and pricing you can certainly find the car you want, or at least know what you want in a car before you ever make it to the dealership.  This can actually take the pressure of you and the salesperson when you show up already aware of the vehicle you want ready to take it for a spin.

Take a Test Drive

Amazingly one in six car buyers never actually drive their new car and another third of them only took the car around the block for a ten-minute test drive.  You really do have to take a ride in the car.  Even if you know this is the car you want to buy, you need to make sure it is going to get up to speed fast enough for you, offer you decent fuel efficiency and handle road abrasions with a smoothness that you desire.  With the price of cars today it only makes sense to give it a thorough test before buying and if you can do so without the salesperson with you, that’s even better.

Negotiating Price

While there is very little need for this anymore, you can give it a try, but do so while being informed.  It’s better to work from the invoice price the dealer paid and work up, which you can find online, rather than working down from MSRP.  Use caution here though, if your credit is not exceptional or the model year has just begun you probably will not get the dealer to move on the price much at all.

Financing

While dealer financing can give you the best monthly payment or offer zero interest, this is typically limited to those with the best credit scores and a large down payment.  You are better off armed with a preapproval from your financial institution, which will actually make negotiating the price much easier for you in while at the dealership.  You can always make the decision to use the dealer financing if its offered, but you won’t know that up front and having this lined up can make the car buying experience even better.

Focus on the Total Price

Many car buyers shop for a vehicle based on what they can afford to pay as a monthly payment and not the actual price of the vehicle.  With financing that can be stretched out over a long period of time, dealerships can actually make a loan work for just about any payment amount that is reasonable.  Because of this you are much better off shopping first for the overall price of the vehicle and not for the payment you know you can afford.  There are plenty of online tools you can use to ensure you meet the payment you want, and can even get below that with a reasonable price for the vehicle, so look at the total price first and not the payment price.

Trade-Ins

Buyers show up at car dealers with a variety of trade-in situations to discuss.  Some are “upside down” in their old car, which means they owe more than the car is worth, while others have paid off cars that still hold a great value for the trade-in.  It’s a good idea to shop the car you want and the price before ever discussing the trade-in.  You should also know what your trade-in is worth before you ever get to the dealership so you know what a fair offer will be when it’s time to trade your car.

Be Able to Walk Away

Car dealers are not the only ones who want you thinking with your heart and not your head, all salespeople want this and help you picture yourself in your shiny new car.  There is no new car deal that you can’t walk away from unless you barely made it to the dealership in your old clunker and you have no other wheels, in which case you are now an easy target for the salespeople.  Ensuring you have the ability to walk away from a deal will give you a better chance of getting a better deal once you “go home and sleep on it”.

Shop Around

Once you know what you want in a car shop online and at several locations to find the deal on the car you want.  There is nothing wrong with shopping several places to try and get the best price and sometimes even looking at cars that area a model year older is a great idea to ensure you have the car you want ant the price you can afford to pay.

Insurance Costs

The cost of insurance on a new vehicle can be a surprising cost for you when you choose your new vehicle. This is really a shock when you have driven cars that were paid for and only required liability insurance, new cars with a lien on them will require you to pay much more to insure the vehicle.  Research the insurance costs before you visit the dealership and remember this is a part of the vehicle costs you have to incur each month.

The Extras at the Closing

Unless you want extras built into your loan you need to be ready to tell the salesperson no about the extras they might offer you.  An extended warranty might be a good idea for your new car as well as some other protections, but pay close attention so you don’t end up buying extra items you don’t really need.  These items to cause your loan amount to increase and you will be paying for them on a monthly basis, which in most cases makes no sense.

Car shopping is much less frustrating than it used to be and with all the tools and features you can find online you can go to a dealership with everything ready to go when you are ready to buy a new car.  When you are basically “window shopping” for cars and don’t have any idea what you want, that is when you can get yourself into a situation you might not be prepared for.  Salespeople are there to help you, but they are also there to sell cars, so keep that in mind when you shop around for your next great ride.