Are you buying a car? If so, this is a perfect time to use one of the many good things about the internet. According to AAA (American Automobile Association), three simple steps will streamline the process and help your sanity.
Buying a Car
Do you homework by using online shopping and comparison websites. You should be able to find reviews, specials, expert reviews, and price ranges.
AAA says that many car dealers will bring the car to you for a test drive. Hmmm… I would say that you check out the fine print on that suggestion. AAA, though, is supposed to be a good source for information like this.
When buying a car take advantage of the many websites where you can get prequalified for an auto loan. Most likely your bank has auto loan preapproval with a simple form completed online.
What I have done in the past when buying a car
I do my homework when I want to buy a car. I search through reviews and consumer sites. When I get to the dealer, I know what I want. I also take the time to review the feature packages for the vehicle I want. When I sort all of that out, I know what package I want. In fact, I have used it in my favor since the feature package I desired was not available.
I check with the organizations that I have a membership: AAA and Sams’ Club. My credit union also has a car buying arrangement with a company, so I compare features and prices there as well. I found that some employers will have a similar car buying support. Check your benefits carefully. I suggest you contact your HR group to verify what is available. Through membership groups, I check pricing and financing.
Research how much trade-in you can get. Kelley Blue Book is the standard. Also, consider looking up the loan value of your vehicle. That will give you an idea of how a dealer will offer you. They are not likely to accept a trade for something that they know a buyer cannot get financing for if they want to purchase your car. Of course, many dealers have arrangements with groups to transport your vehicle to a different market for selling.
I deliberately do not buy a car when I visit a dealership. I also tell the dealer’s agent that I am investigating my options. I consider how the salesperson treats me, how they provide me information, and how much pressure they continue to put on me. I get an approximate price. I compare the dealerships in my treatment, customer service focus, and the pricing. Once I decide which dealership deserves my business, I contact the salesperson by phone or email to set up an appointment.
I take notes to the appointment! I know the price variables available and the price of competitors. I also have in my mind the drive out price I want. When you visit the dealership, have your salesperson put all the details down on paper you can hold! I hide nothing with the salesperson. I let he/she know the drive out price. If my price and the dealer price is within a couple of hundred dollars, I agree to purchase the vehicle. I re-emphasize that the price I agree to is the drive out price! Now is when the fun begins while the salesperson goes between you and the sales manager.
If you do your homework and go into buying a vehicle with reliable information you become an educated consumer. Also, be ready to say no thank you and walk out. If you are prepared to ride out the negotiations, you should come away a satisfied customer with the vehicle you wanted. Just as a matter of information, I have been in a dealership for 6+ hours. I even got a free snack out of the deal. Dealerships know that if you leave, you may not come back.
Bottom line, do your homework and be smart when you are buying a car.
I have been an AAA member for many years. I wrote another post providing ideas for travel based on the organization’s advice.