Looking for the best auto deals while buying a car can be extremely stressful.
Next to buying a house, it’s one of the most expensive purchases a person has to make, so it’s no surprise that you want to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.
But as long as you prepare yourself properly and remember a few simple tips, you’ll be on your way to finding the best auto deals around in no time!
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How to Get the Best Auto Deals When Buying a Car
1. Assess Your Budget
Just like with any major purchase, before setting out to buy a car, you need to take stock of your finances and what you’ll be able to afford.
It’s a good idea to know what expenses you’re going to have and where the money is going to come from for at least a month following your purchase.
From there, you’ll be able to see how much money you have available and how much, if any, you’ll need to borrow.
2. The Sticker Price Is Not the Final Price
Once you have a number in mind for how much you have in your budget to spend on a car, next you have to think about the costs beyond the sticker.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Insurance Costs
- Title Transfer Fee
- New Plates
- Registration Fee
- State and Local Taxes
- State and Local Property Tax
- Dealer Fees
To find the best auto deals, you should do a fair amount of research into all these things before you meet with your dealer.
But, before you make any final decisions, ask the dealer directly what the out-the-door cost will be. They’ll give you the total price including titles, taxes, and fees that you’re required to pay.
3. Find Deals Online
Regardless of what kind of car you’re looking at getting, the internet is an indispensable resource for finding the best auto deals.
Most dealerships have websites that list available cars, prices, and policies that will help you make a decision on the right car for you. But you can also go to car buying websites like Cars.com or AutoTrader.com that will allow you to search for available cars at any of the dealerships near your home, based on price, model, distance, vehicle type and more!
You could also find a great deal by buying directly online. Ebay and Craigslist have sections of their sites dedicated to used cars available for purchase through the site.
Note: You need to be extra wary of scams and shady sellers when buying directly online. It’s extra important to have the vehicle inspected and take it for a test drive BEFORE making any final purchases.
4. Buy Based on Purchase Price, Not Monthly Payments
One thing that might seem tempting is a deal based on low monthly payments. You don’t have to secure the finances right away and it seems less stressful in the short term.
However, if you sign on to make low monthly payments for 72 months, then interest rates over that period could add on thousands to your total purchase price!
Monthly payments are nothing unusual when making a large purchase like this, but be sure you know what you’re getting into before you throw away thousands of dollars for a minor convenience.
5. Be Ready to Negotiate
Negotiation is still a core aspect of buying a car at most major dealerships, and to some people that can seem intimidating. A lot of people have a perception of car salesmen as being smooth, fast-talking scam artists that will try to take you for every penny.
But look at the purchase from both sides. A car salesman typically makes a certain percentage commission based on the final price you settle on.
They’re betting on two things to keep you at a higher price: that you have some wiggle room on what you’re willing to spend, and that you’ll be unprepared in some way that they can use.
Your best weapons in a negotiation are knowledge and confidence, so if you don’t have one, you’d better be packing quite a bit of the other. Here are a few things to consider to give you some negotiating power:
Secure Financing Before Seeing the Dealer
This goes along with budgeting, but take the extra step and have the funds ready to go before you head to a dealership.
From a salesman’s perspective, a budget can be wiggled around, but if you have the funds ready to be spent, it sets a hard price ceiling that the dealer can’t convince you to go over.
Test Before You Buy
Whether you’re buying new or used, always test drive before you buy and have a mechanic do a full examination. You might find some small issue that you could leverage to knock hundreds off the final price.
Narrow It Down to a Few Choices
Even if you have one car that jumps out at you from the very beginning, have a few backup choices lined up at other dealerships in case you can’t work with your first choice.
It’s good to not only have other cars but other dealers in your back pocket so that you have the option to walk away if a dealer isn’t willing to meet your demands.
Which brings us to your biggest negotiating tool…
Be Willing to Walk Away
A car salesman wants to keep you on the lot above all else. They might tell you that they simply can’t lower the price anymore for you, but if you walk away, that means no commission for them.
You might be walking out the door before they stop you, but if they let you leave, go somewhere else.
Sometimes they really won’t be able to go any lower, but that doesn’t mean another dealership won’t. If you really can’t find a better price, come back to your first choice in a few days and renegotiate. They’ll likely be more willing to talk than when you left.
Stand firm. Know what the car you’re buying is worth. And don’t get swindled.
Finding the best auto deals can be intimidating, but the key to making it easy is preparation.
When you know what the car is worth, what you’re willing to spend, and all the hidden costs you’ll have to consider, then you’ll have everything you need to get the best deal and drive away in the car of your dreams!