Getting a new ride? Make sure your experience is the best it can be by taking these main three steps.
Do your homework
Browse the four big websites for everything from the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) to what the dealer paid for each component. Kelly Blue Book is what the dealer’s use to check the market, Edmunds has tips, information and reviews. Nada Guides has information about new and certified used cars. The classic, Consumer Reports gives peace of mind with their tried and tested safety reviews.
Check for discounts
If you belong to AAA, they now have a Preferred Auto Buying Program in most states that makes all the arrangements for buying at a dealership with the buying power of the AAA behind you.
If you have home or renter’s insurance, when you look for insurance, see if they offer a discount for getting both together with the same company.
Check manufacturer’s and dealer’s websites to see if there are any discounts presently or coming up.
FYI the average car incentive given by a dealership in the U.S. was $2,498 per vehicle sold in October 2010, down $61. So if you can get at least that for a 2010 or 2011 vehicle, you’re doing well!
Make it work at the dealership
Before you arrive at the dealership, get a handle on your credit rating. If you’ve not already gotten a loan at the bank, see how low their financing will be—frequently dealer financing has much lower interest rate than you can get at a bank and the dealer has a higher incentive to give you that loan.
Know what you want in the way of extras and what you’ll be willing to wait for the package or car particulars that you want. If you’re willing to wait for automatic with a moon roof, stick to it—or know when you’d fold with offers a dealer may give you in the meantime.
Also know what you can get yourself “aftermarket” or after you buy the car vs. paying for it to be done before you buy. For example, some insurance companies give you a lower premium if you have your VIN (vehicle identification number) etched on all your windows, but you can buy a etching kit yourself for about $30 and possibly save $300 at the dealer. Also rust proofing is included already with a warranty in most new cars, so paying for an additional treatment for upwards of $700-900 may not be worth it—just get a treatment at your local lube joint if you have a “salt” season.
I used to think it was a great idea to ask for a female salesperson, then I realized I just wanted a great deal. I asked to speak to the manager of sales the last time I bought a car and the whole process was miraculously easy—he was the person who could make all the discount decisions.
How is your car shopping going?