So it’s time to trade in that old clunker and upgrade to a shiny new car. Buying a vehicle can be an overwhelming process, and with a lot of money on the line most of us want to make sure we’re getting the best deal we can. Here’s how to leave the dealership without feeling like you got worked over.
The best way to get a good deal is to know what a good deal is. There are a plethora of websites and other tools for buyers that offer invaluable information, including JDpower.com, and CarBuyingTips.com. Edmunds.com has a “true market value” feature that allows you to see what other buyers are paying in your area for the same make and model. ConsumerReports.org is another great resource which offers a price-check service for specific vehicles. Check the automaker’s own website to find out if they’re offering any incentives, which can cut the total cost significantly. If you are not paying in cash, research different payment methods before you step into the dealership. The most common method is to secure an auto loan. You can find the best financing rate available by using sites like Autocreditexpress.com.
If you don’t have a specific car in mind, make sure to take safety ratings into account when doing research. A safer car, besides the obvious benefit of being safe, will also save you money on car insurance (without the British gecko). Choosing a car with a great reputation for reliability will also save you money in the long run. We all know the feeling of going in for an oil change and being told you need $1000 worth of work done, and it’s not a good one.
Dealers don’t want you to know it, but everything is negotiable. Don’t make a salesperson’s dream come true by walking in ready to pay the ticket price. One way to negotiate effectively is to do your dealings online. Internet salespeople are usually paid commission based on the volume of sales rather than the price of each. Another way to save is to make dealers compete for your business. Contact several online providers, letting them know what you want and that you’re talking to other dealers. Make it clear that you will opt for the best deal. Always remember – they want to sell you that car! Negotiating becomes much easier if you’re flexible and ready to walk away, so make sure to begin shopping before your situation is urgent. Keeping cool and stoic, like in poker, is helpful in mediation. Screaming “I must have this car!” when the salesperson shows you the model with the fancy voice-activated GPS is tantamount to opening your wallet and saying “Take whatever you want!”
As in life, timing is everything when it comes to buying a car. Many salespeople have quotas to meet, so shopping at the end of the month can give you the upper hand. Or shop at the end of your chosen model’s year. For a lot of models, the new cars start to arrive August through October. Shopping on snowy days or other low demand days is smart, as is shopping at the end of the day: A salesperson could be flexible in negotiations in order to close the deal and get home for the day. Bottom line: be patient, check deals, and shop around.
Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to a new car at a great price without the fear that the salespeople are secretly laughing at you as you walk out.