Buying a new car is a really big deal and possibly one of the larger expenses of life. Because it’s such a big step, it can often be a daunting one unless you’re fully armed with the facts. Car dealers are known to drive a hard bargain and so you have to be prepared to haggle to get an unbeatable deal. Here we take you through 8 ways you can improve your car-buying strategy before you go out and much more.
1. Research Vehicles and Features
It’s always a bad idea to browse different makes and models of cars by visiting different showrooms. For a start, you’ll be in the direct firing line of a slick salesman who may have the powers of persuasion to strike the wrong deal for you. There are plenty of resources on the internet and online vehicle appraisers so that you can find the right car at the right price range for what you’re looking for.
2. Get Preapproved for a Loan
If you’re not in a position to spend cash on a new car, organize your finance ahead of striking a deal. Having the money in place puts you in the position of negotiating strength when it comes to choosing the car you want and need. There are plenty of sources of vehicle finance online and you can generally get approved in a fairly easy process that will save you time when it’s time to pay for the car you want.
3. Plan Your Trade-In
If you don’t have a trade-in car, then obviously you can skip this step. If you do, make sure you know exactly what your trade-in car is worth so that you get the best price. Although you are unlikely to get the market price when you trade in your car for another, you should get reasonably close to the figure discounted off the price. When making initial enquiries, always be honest about its condition. If there’s a mechanical problem brewing that could be expensive, it will affect its value. Be honest with yourself when determining what it’s worth and make sure you inform the dealer you’re negotiating prices with.
4. Locate and Test-Drive the Car
By this point, you will have decided on a few cars you like the look of and so it’s time to find out more. Find a dealership close to you as you will want to return your car to them for servicing and maintenance in the future. The majority of car dealerships in America list their inventories online through various agencies and so this is a great place to start your search. You can usually configure models to the specifications you require so that you get an idea of the retail price of the model you have in mind.
Here are some do’s and don’ts for taking the next steps towards buying your new car:
- Check that the model of car you want is in stock at the dealership. Many online inventories don’t reflect sales until a day or so after the deal has been done.
- Ask the salesperson if there are any optional extras. Most makes and models of cars have add-ons such as all-weather floor mats or driver-assist technology which will naturally reflect on the overall price you pay.
- Schedule an appointment at the dealership rather than just turning up. Salespeople tend to get tied up for some time in the auto trade and you don’t want to be hanging around.
- When you take a car for a test drive, don’t just drive around the block. Try and think through how your family will fit in the car and how it handles the kinds of roads you usually use to get a better idea if it’s right for you.
- Make sure you take a closer look at how easy the controls are to use in the car and that there’s ample cargo space for your needs. If you use a child seat, bring it with you when you test drive the car so that you can check it fits.
- Don’t feel pressurized to make a decision on the same day you test drive the car. Salespeople work to targets that are often based on monthly deadlines. This is of no-odds to you at all and so you need to take your time in making the right decision before you part with any cash.
5. Check Sale Price and Warranties
Once you have test driven the car of your choice, then it’s time to zoom in on its price. Here are two ways you can get the purchase price for your new car:
- Make an enquiry with three dealerships with the make and model of car you want in stock. As of them each for their best selling price and make sure it includes any of the extras you want. The best choice will be made obvious when you get the numbers in.
- Get a locked-in price which is designed to take the average price paid in your area for the car you want. When you speak to the salesperson, get them to email all quotes so that you have a breakdown of what you’re paying for.
6. Review the Deal and Dealer Financing
Once you have the final quote for your car of choice, the next question to ask is whether it’s competitive. Again, the internet is your source for finding out the average figure people paid in your area for a car of similar spec. You want to make this comparison before you sign on the dotted line just so you are sure you have a great deal.
However, remember that the average price means just that. Some people will have paid more than the quoted figure and others less. Use it as a ballpark figure to check against your dealers’ quote just to make double sure you get their very best price. If the figure you’ve been quoted by the dealer is much higher than the average, there’s no need to discard the deal and walk away.
Sometimes a car’s price is higher than the average because it comes with a better maintenance package or sales follow-up. You want to know that when you leave the showroom you have a degree of recourse should anything go wrong with your car. It could be that the dealer is giving away the first three services as part of the deal, which would represent quite a significant saving. The price you pay for a car doesn’t necessarily reflect whether it’s a good deal or not.
7. Close the Deal
If everything looks good and stacks up as it should, it’s time to commit to the deal. From this point, you can proceed either by buying your car at the dealership or having it delivered to your home. The majority of people close the deal at the dealership although it’s quite unusual to be able to drive the car away at the point of signing. In many cases, there are some final checks dealers have to undertake for each vehicle they sell and so there may be a wait before you’re driving around in your new car.
Another approach is to make the sale dependent on you having your car delivered to your office or home. This is a relatively small point to negotiate in the final stages of closing the deal but it does save quite a lot of hassle. Organizing delivery at the time of sale means that you don’t have to organize a lift to the dealership when you collect the car.
Always remember before signing the dotted line to thoroughly review the agreement you’ve made with the dealer and that includes the small print. It’s always better to smooth out any rough edges of the deal before closing so that there are no nasty surprises when it’s done. Remember that buying a car is a significant commitment and once you have signed the contract, there’s no going back.
8. Take Delivery
When you take delivery of your car, don’t get carried away with the excitement. You want to make sure that what has been delivered is exactly what you ordered. Walk around the car and check for any dents or scratches or any other issues that weren’t mentioned when you bought it. Sometimes vehicles are damaged in transportation and so you want to be double sure your car hasn’t been.
Get the salesperson you’ve been dealing with to give you a thorough tour of your new car. You should, of course, have an owners’ manual where you can find everything you need to know, but who really reads them? Get someone to show you how to pair your phone using Bluetooth, how to use the driver-assist features and even something as small as where the hood and fuel cap releases are. That way you don’t have to consult a huge manual for minor points.
And now there is only one more thing to do: Enjoy your new car.