Even if you aren’t a car expert, there are different techniques you can use to get the best price on a new car. All it takes is some research and the right attitude and you can save thousands of dollars on your next new car.
Prepare before you even go shopping
If you don’t know much about cars you’ll need to do a little studying before you head out shopping. A good way to start is by talking to people you know who are more knowledgeable about cars. Even better, let one or two of your car friends know that you are in the market to buy new car and ask them to guide you. They can act as advisers throughout the process. Buying a car is a major purchase and you shouldn’t go through it alone if you are not confident in what you are doing.
The next step is to educate yourself about the cars you’re interested in buying. There are excellent websites where you can do this, including Kelly Blue Book, Edmunds.com, and TrueCar.
These sites can give you a solid idea as to what the prices are for the cars you want in your local area (prices do vary from one area to another!). This will help you to know how much you should pay for a car and if a dealer is trying to overcharge you. Armed with that kind of knowledge you will strengthen your bargaining position
Shop and let it be known that your shopping
Unless the dealer is a trusted family friend you should never lock yourself into working with a single dealership. Not only should you shop among several dealerships, but you should let each of them know that that is exactly what you are doing.
By doing this you are putting each dealer on notice that they will have to earn your business. Just the fact that a dealer knows you are shopping with other dealers will give them incentive to treat you better and to give you the best price. It’s a way of demanding the dealer’s respect.
Buy at the end of the month
Most people who work in sales are subject to some type of a sales quota. That includes car salespeople! You can take advantage of this by shopping for a car in the last two or three days of the month. The car salesman will be anxious to add another sale for the month so that he can increase his paycheck and satisfy his sales manager.
Just make sure that if you are shopping at the end of the month that you are prepared to close the sale by the end of the month. If you lead the salesman to believe that the sale will not take place until the following month the urgency may disappear, and with it any price advantage.
Tips: Be sure to know your credit score before you start shopping, if you are going to take out a car loan. You should also know whether or not you are going to trade-in your old vehicle or sell it on your own.
Buy at the holidays
All businesses have peak and off-peak times. Off-peak is when you want to buy because the dealers are more motivated to sell. Probably the best time of the year to buy a new car is between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. While a lot of people are shopping for the holidays, not many are buying cars.
Thanksgiving can be an excellent time when it falls toward the very end of the month. You’ll have both the holiday and the month-end factors playing in your favor.
The week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve may be the very best time. Not only do you have the holidays and the month-end working in your favor, but it’s also the year end. This will be the dealer’s last opportunity to make good numbers for the year that’s about to come to a close. Some dealerships are also charged taxes on inventory they carry into the new year, giving them an added incentive to sell cars at a discount.
This strategy seems to work better during the winter holidays. Warm weather holidays, like Independence Day, are standalone holidays that occur during what is otherwise a strong sales time in the car business.
Bring a “car guy” along with you
If you don’t know much about cars then consider bringing along someone who does. Dealers work with cars all day and have superior knowledge compared to the average car buyer. The way to level the playing field is by bringing your own car expert with you. That could help prevent the car dealer from trying to sell you features, options and programs that are not really necessary.
This can be even more important for women. There have long been allegations that car repair shops take advantage of women and it’s hardly a stretch to suspect that the same situation happens with car dealerships. By bringing along your own “car guy” you take any advantage away from the dealer.
Know in Advance Whether You Will Trade In Your Car, or Sell it on Your Own
If you are replacing your current car, you should have a good idea of what the market price will be if you decide to sell it on your own or trade it in. There are pros and cons to both choices. In general, you will get more money selling your car on your own. However, many states give you a tax credit for the value of your trade in, making it closer than you might expect. It pays to run the numbers before making your decision.
That said, you will probably be better off selling your car on your own if you currently drive a beater. Most dealerships don’t have a use for them on their car lots, and will simply auction them off. You will be better off listing your car on Craigslist. There is always a market for quality, inexpensive used cars.
Stay in charge
Finally, when buying a car you must stay in control. You are the customer, which means that you are also the most important person in the transaction. Car dealers need qualified buyers more than qualified buyers need any one dealer! This is because there are many dealers a buyer can choose from.
This puts ultimate control over the purchase in your hands! Never forget this and always use it to your advantage.
Do you have any car buying stories or secrets to share?