Between negotiating, financing, and comparing options, navigating the car-buying process can be overwhelming. Whether you’ve purchased a car in the past or this is your first time, here are a few helpful tips that will make your trip to the dealership smooth and seamless.
1. Research, research, research
The surest way to lose time and money at the car lot is to show up without knowing what you’re looking for. By having a thorough understanding of the make, model, and features you’re looking for, you won’t have to worry about being misled or leaving with something you don’t really want. Also consider the differences between new and used cars, because you might be surprised by the variations in features and cost. Do you want two doors or four? Four cylinders or six? All of the bells and whistles or just the most basic amenities available? Make sure you have a plan that includes everything from the maintenance requirements to the fuel efficiency of your ideal vehicle to prevent yourself from paying more than you’re expecting for included features that you don’t really care about.
2. Compare different sellers
To get the best deal, shop around. Check out different dealers or independent sellers to compare prices as well as the quality of available vehicles. You might be able to get a newer model or a car with less mileage for a lower price by finding the right vendor. You can also get quotes from the potential sellers, which you can use as leverage for negotiating the best price. People are more likely to make the sale more compelling when they know you have other options and are willing to take your business elsewhere.
3. Negotiate all aspects of the contract
What you see on the car’s sticker is rarely what you’ll end up paying at the end of the transaction. Whoever is selling you the car likely has a flexible price margin, so offer a price that’s lower than what you would actually feel comfortable paying. Expect to receive some push back, but don’t waver because the salesperson would likely rather receive some commission than none at all. When you come to a price you can agree with, make sure it aligns with all contracts and paperwork you receive before signing. If you plan on applying for financing, always try to negotiate your monthly payment and interest rate, even though it’s likely based on your credit and income. Ask all finance and sales personnel for clarification on everything to make sure you’re all on the same page, and don’t be afraid to stay firm on the price you feel comfortable with. After all, you can always go somewhere else.
4. Consider the cost of auto insurance
Depending on the type of car you choose, your insurance costs could vary greatly. Sometimes choosing a four-door rather than a two-door vehicle can take a substantial amount off of your monthly or bi-yearly insurance payments. Research everything beforehand so you know what features or models will end up costing you in the long run. A quick call to your agent can clear up any confusion and give you an accurate estimate for the type of car you’re looking for.
5. Don’t go with the first offer
This goes with the negotiation process, but don’t immediately jump to the first option you’re provided with – even if it seems attractive. Take a minute to think about all aspects of the offer, and possibly provide a counter or take a look at a different item. Impulse buying can get you into a lot of trouble when it comes to purchasing something as significant as a car, so ruminating on all possibilities – big and small – can save you money while also giving you added peace of mind. The last thing you want is to leave the lot unhappy with decisions you made because they sounded good in the moment.
Buying a car can be an arduous process, but it doesn’t have to be as complicated as it seems. Showing up prepared and ready to talk through your needs and expectations can save you a considerable amount of money and trouble once you’re driving off in your new purchase.
Between negotiating, financing, and comparing options, navigating the car-buying process can be overwhelming. Whether you’ve purchased a car in the past or this is your first time going through it, here are a few helpful tips that will make your trip to the dealership smooth and seamless.