Car Shopping Tips For The Uninformed: What You Need To Know Before You Go To An Auto Dealership

    Car Shopping Tips

    Here's some car shopping tips. It served me well during my many years of car-hunting.

    Shopping for a car is a big expense. Whether the car you are planning to buy new car or a used one, it pays to have a good idea of what kind of car you are planning to buy. More people would like to buy a new one since it saves them from maintenance worries. Plus it's a good feeling to drive away from an auto dealership with a brand new car. However, the really smart shoppers buy a near new car. If you have money to spend, it's best to buy an almost new car from an individual seller, preferably one that you know, because you are going to save a bundle. Even if you buy a one or two-year old car from a dealer, you still save a lot. Keep an eye on the mileage. The lower the mileage, the better.

    The average cost of a car is now $26,000 according to the NADA. But there are many ways to save even on new cars by asking for rebates and incentives. They are usually offered around the end of summer because the new models for the following year start to arrive around October. Dealers who have inventory of the year's models try to unload their cars. These are car shopping tips that not everyone knows.

    Getting Started

    To get the right vehicle at the best price, it's more important than ever to do your homework before starting to shop. Begin with the basics. At every step of the way, don't forget these car shopping tips.

    Decide how much you can afford and how much you are willing to pay before you shop for a vehicle. If, like most consumers, you have to borrow money, shop for a loan before you shop for a vehicle. A good place to look for a loan is your company's credit union. But with the low rates nowadays, the average car shopper has many options. But even if your credit is bad, remember that you can always find a good loan with a higher but reasonable rate. Try shopping around for such lenders.

    Also keep in mind you'll probably need a down payment of about 20 percent if your trade-in is worth that much. The total of your loan, down payment, trade-in, and any factory rebate would have to cover the price of the car, as well as fees and sales tax. Your bank or credit union can discuss loan options to help you set a realistic price range that fits your means and budget.

    Buying a new car is a financial stretch for many consumers and out of reach for some. Many have turned to used cars and others decide to just lease a car , hoping to avoid a hefty down payment and lower their monthly payment. But if you follow this site's car shopping tips, you will stretch your dollar more.

    Gather as much additional information as you possibly can on the vehicles in the price range in which you're interested before visiting a dealership. This car buying guide offers prices, evaluations, and other valuable data for virtually all makes and models. Take a look at a few of internet sites which are in the business of helping people look for cars. They are reputable and provide very good car shopping tips.

    More Car Shopping Tips

    However,it's always a good idea to visit an auto show, if one is held in your area, because it's a rare opportunity to make car comparisons of many makes and models side by side. If you can, rent or borrow a particular vehicle you're considering so you can take an extended test drive.

    Perhaps the right "car" for you is a "truck." SUVs, minivans, and pickups are "light trucks," which account for nearly half of new-vehicle sales. However, some of these vehicles are tall and/or long, so make sure the one you want will fit in your garage. In addition, shorter riders may have trouble entering and exiting tall trucks. Most trucks and SUVs offer four-wheel-drive systems, as do some cars and minivans.

    Whichever type of vehicle you choose, select a model with options that suit your needs, not just your desires. Of course, it all depends. If you are single, you lean toward sporty vehicles. If you have a family with 2 kids, perhaps, a van would be ideal. That's all up to you.

    Also compare ownership costs. Consider factors such as insurance premiums, resale values, and fuel economy, including whether the vehicle requires costlier premium gasoline. We all know how expensive the insurance would be for your teenage son or daughter. Maybe, it's prudent not to buy them sports cars. Premiums will kill you.

    Compare financing rates from local lenders to find the best auto loan deals on a new auto loan . Or go to those lenders websites. More often than not, they also offer great car shopping tips. The difference in such costs can add hundreds-even thousands-of dollars to your final purchase price in the long run.

    Be A Smart Shopper

    Informed shoppers have an edge when negotiating price. They stick to the car shopping tips that they had read through their research. To get the best deal, plan your moves and take your time.

    Know what you want, but be flexible. Narrow your list to two or three models that best suit your needs and pocketbook. Total the list and invoice prices for the models you're considering, with any options or option packages you want, and add the delivery charge to both columns. If a manufacturer's rebate is advertised for a vehicle, deduct it from both the list and invoice totals. Your "target total" is the invoice price, though the final transaction will usually end up between the two figures. The final price will depend upon your knowledge and ability to negotiate and the salesperson's resolve.

    Research your present vehicle's fair-market trade-in value ahead of time by checking published guides or consulting a local lending institution. Remember that you are looking for a car. It's a big financial investment. In the short and long run, the car shopping tips that you can find there are invaluable.

    A vehicle's trade-in value is expressed as its "wholesale" value (as opposed to the "retail" value, which would be a dealer's asking price if the car were placed on a lot). You might want to "shop" your car or truck to a few dealerships' used-car departments. Ask each manager what the dealer will pay for your vehicle in an outright sale, and get the bids in writing. Keep in mind, however, that you can usually get more money for your car if you sell it yourself to a private party.

    Shop competing dealers to compare prices on the same vehicle with the same or similar features. You're not likely to get the dealer's "best" price for a vehicle just by asking (you'll usually have to bicker to obtain it), but this can give you an idea of how willing the dealer is to negotiate.

    A Few Don'ts - Car shopping tips you are not supposed to forget:

    Don't put a deposit on a car just to get a price quote. Don't allow the salesperson to "steer" you toward a costlier vehicle or a version that comes with features you don't want.

    Don't give the impression that you're "in love" with a particular vehicle, though; a well-trained salesperson can use your emotions to gain the upper hand in price negotiations.

    Size up supply and demand for the car you want. A good deal on a slow-selling model might be below dealer invoice, while a popular car can still command full suggested retail price or even more. Dealer inventories often tell the story; if there are numerous examples of a model on the lot, it's probably not a hot seller.

    Don't volunteer the fact that you have a trade-in until you've secured a firm selling price from a salesperson. This way, he or she won't be able to "inflate" the trade-in value by manipulating the selling price of the new vehicle (though this can work to your advantage if you need a larger down payment to qualify for financing).

    Don't give your trade-in's keys to the salesperson-they may be held hostage while he or she pressures you to sign a sales contract on the spot. Test drive the exact car you've decided upon-before you buy. Think you want manual shift and a sport suspension? A 15-minute test drive might convince you to go with an automatic transmission and a softer suspension that produces a smoother ride.

    Remember that these car shopping tips are going to save you a lot of trouble and cash.

    Dealing With Dealers

    Some dealers cling to traditional hard-sell methods. Others take a kinder, gentler approach. If a specific dealer or salesperson makes you uncomfortable, look elsewhere. Remember, these dealers are in the business of making money. They are not going to give any car shopping tips.

    Buying a car should be a pleasant experience, so find a dealer that makes it one.

    Even at dealerships where the atmosphere is congenial, however, the salesperson's job is to make as much money as possible on each sale. Your quest as a consumer is to get the lowest possible price on the car you want. You need to find a happy medium between getting a good deal and allowing the salesperson a reasonable profit. Dealers are businesses, after all.

    The Fine Art Of Haggling With The Dealer: Some Useful Car Shopping Tips

    Dealers can make up to twice as much on an auto finance loan, insurance , and add-ons than they make selling the vehicle itself. Popular moneymakers include rustproofing, "protection packages," burglar alarms, powerful audio systems, and extended-service contracts. Dealers pay little for these and mark them up sharply. You can usually buy them elsewhere for less money-and often times you won't need them at all.

    For a good deal, find a good dealer. Price is important, but it shouldn't be your only consideration. A dealership with a reputation for providing good service and giving customers the benefit of the doubt may deserve to charge more. Ask friends and neighbors for car shopping tips that they used before and their experiences with dealers. Your local Better Business Bureau can provide a Reliability Report, stating whether complaints have been filed against a specific dealership.

    Look for a pattern of complaints or for signs that problems remain unresolved. You don't want to do business with a poorly run dealership. Notice how you're greeted when you arrive at a dealership, and whether the same salesperson stays with a customer through the entire transaction. Some pass customers off to a "closer" who specializes in high-pressure tactics.

    Beware of dealers who slap a second price sticker onto every car, listing high-profit extras you may not want. Look for salespeople who exhibit real product knowledge, don't just rattle off a set speech, and are neither pushy nor overly friendly. If you feel bulldozed or intimidated, shop elsewhere. You should expect-and get-professional treatment. Check out the service department of the dealership. Ask some people who are having their cars serviced if they are happy with their buying experience and treatment after the sale. Those happy customers can also dispense valuable car shopping tips. Sometimes, all you need to do is to ask.

    The Fine Art Of Haggling With The Dealer: More Useful Car Shopping Tips

    Special-ordering the exact car and equipment you desire is usually possible only on domestic models. Dealers can search other dealers for the model you want and can sometimes install options once the car arrives. However, they seldom can-or will-order from the factory.

    Dealers might add a separate charge for advertising. Challenge this extra fee. Once you're ready to negotiate in earnest with a salesperson, you'll be brought to a "closing room" off of the sales floor. Start by making the first offer, which should be the vehicle's invoice price, as stated earlier. Tell the salesperson how you arrived at this price, and that if he or she can meet it or come close to it, you'll close the deal on the spot.

    Otherwise, the salesperson will typically come back with a counteroffer that will be slightly less than the vehicle's retail price. Now raise your initial offer by incremental amounts of, say, one or two hundred dollars at a time; the salesperson will likely lower his or her price in the same manner. At some point, the salesperson may leave to "present your offer to the sales manager" (though he may not actually do so). He or she will probably return with another bid. If it's close to your last offer, try standing firm; if it's considerably higher, continue the negotiating process.

    If the salesperson goes to "see the manager" a second time, his or her next counteroffer will probably be the dealership's lowest price on that day for that model. At this point, decide whether to accept the offer, leave and try another dealer, or keep negotiating. Once you've reached an agreeable offer, bring up the subject of your trade-in and negotiate that price separately.

    These car shopping tips could be hard on first-timers. Remember to bring an uncle or older brother or your dad (if you're young). Always look for a smart and savvy person who is in possession of enough car shopping tips to make the dealers blush.

    Web Shopping

    Technology is transforming the buying process. Most of today's new-car buyers spend at least part of the shopping process on the computer, taking a trip to the "virtual showroom."

    Nearly every automaker has a Web site brimming with product information and car shopping tips. Some entertain and inform. Some have car shopping tips while others are out there simply to profit to the max. You can "build" your vehicle of choice, get retail prices, even apply for a loan and make an appointment with a dealership. Others are simply online sales brochures with hardly any car shopping tips in print.

    A whopping 90 percent of the nation's 21,800 new-car dealers have a Web site, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association. On most, consumers can browse new- and used-vehicle inventories.

    Generally, online buying sites enter into financial agreements with a number of auto dealers around the country that pay a fee to be a part of the service.

    Web sites transmit purchase requests to their participating dealers who respond with prices for that particular model. This means that if you use an alternate buying service, you'll probably still need to go to a dealership for a test drive, to complete the transaction (which may include the usual sales pitch for rustproofing, service contracts, option packages, and other add-ons), and to take delivery.

    Remember, much of the preliminary work of buying a new car can be done online, but there is no replacement for spending some time walking dealer lots. While a resource like the Internet or the book you're reading now can give you heretofore unknown car shopping tips, they are not substitutes for touching and driving a vehicle you are considering purchasing.

    Be a Smart Shopper, Know These Car Shopping Tips

    Buying From A Private Seller

    When dealing with an individual seller, unless he's personally known to you, it helps to find a good mechanic to check the car first and drive it around the block.

    If that is not possible, there is a service that allows you to check the car that you like from an individual person.

    The first step to protecting yourself against buying used cars with costly hidden problems is by ensuring that you know the history of that particular car.

    That's it folks! Hoping that the car shopping tips that you've read will greatly enhance your offline or online car shopping. Enjoy the ride!

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