We know that many car dealers are honest, good people, but one bad apple spoils the bunch. So we have ten tips for you when you go shopping for a new or used car, many of which even the most honest car dealerships wish you didn’t know. Educate yourself and make your next car purchase a smart one.
Knowledge is Power
It’s become a cliché at this point, but knowledge is not only power in the auto world, it’s money too. So keep these ten things in mind when shopping for a car:
- Know your budget: Most drivers will roll their eyes here, but this comes with a caveat: stick to your budget. Do not be swayed.
- Do your research: Are you at a reputable dealership? Is that model year Civic you’re looking at worth the price? Don’t be afraid to come back later after doing more research.
- Visit your bank: Many car dealers will offer you a loan at the dealership, one that may sound too good to be true. Chances are that they’ll be making more money than your bank would if you financed through them.
- Know your credit score: You can learn this for free, and it’s one of the most powerful bargaining chips in the financing process.
- Watch out for hidden fees: Ask for a list of all fees. Ask for an explanation of how the vehicle went from one price to another and if all the fees are necessary.
- Get it in writing: We can’t stress this one enough. Ask for written confirmation of any deals or offers.
- Be prepared to be disappointed on your trade-in: Kelley Blue Book ratings are all well and good when selling to another driver, but a dealership has to make money. Expect to be low-balled, acknowledge that you know they can’t pay you the KBB price and haggle based on documented repairs and maintenance.
- See the car in person: Do we need to explain this one? Test drive it too.
- You can’t negotiate everything: The internet has basically killed the inflated auto prices of yesteryear. That’s actually great news, but it means you can’t really haggle much on the purchase price.
- Salespeople need you: Their job is to sell cars. Without you, they have no job. While you may not be able to haggle on the purchase price, you’d be surprised how easy it is to get extended warranty coverage for next to nothing these days.
Remember, if you ever feel pressured into buying a vehicle, you’re probably at the wrong dealership. Never be afraid to leave and come back later.
October 2, 2014 by Jamie Rettig