Here are five more points to ponder as you prepare to walk into a dealership.
- Don’t be in a hurry.
A consumer who needs wheels right now, today, is gold to a dealer, especially if you let them know you’re currently without a car due to a crash or sudden malfunction. Take your time, plan as far ahead in advance as you can for your purchase, and be willing to haggle or walk away if you don’t like the deal on the table. If there’s a hot new ride just being introduced to the marketplace that everyone wants, see if you can put off it until prices may (possibly) drop a little. Being in a rush will almost always cost you money.
- Obtain financing yourself
You can get pre-approved for a loan before you start shopping by applying to different banks and credit unions willing to give you a good deal. Keep all the applications within a 2-week window and the loan applications will count as one transaction so your credit is less likely to be affected. When you decide who you’re going to make the loan with and go with them, you have about 2 months to pick a car. Also, if the dealer really wants your business, he or she may make you a better loan offer if you already have one in place.
- Get educated
Websites like JDPower.com, Edmunds.com, ConsumerReports.org and NadaGuides.com offer an incredible wealth of information easily digestable by anyone willing to put the time in. Edmunds.com features a “true market value” comparison system to show what purchasers are paying in your state and town as well as across the nation. These numbers don’t lie, and any dealer wishing to close a sale most likely won’t argue with data obtained from the above sites. Also, experts say, everything is negotiable, despite add-on fees you’ll see in preprinted auto sales contracts. Finally, find out what incentives the manufacturers themselves are offering for the model you’re looking at.
- Shop for your ride during the off-season and save
Got your eye on a convertible? Buy it when the weather’s ice-cold and no one else is thinking about flop-tops. Is the end of the year approaching? Get down to the dealer, because all their current models will become last year’s models the split second the calendar flips over to January. If that’s not possible, shop toward the end of the month when many salespeople are anxious to make their quota and may offer better deals.
- Shop your trade-in around
The dealer selling you a new ride isn’t always the one who will offer the best price on your trade-in. Take your old car around to a few dealers and see who will offer you a good price on an outright sale, or consider selling privately. If you own a popular model, have maintained it well and kept all the repair records, you’re almost always guaranteed to get a good price.