Car Buying Tips and Tricks

car buying tipsWhen I bought my first new car, I was just out of college and felt flush with cash. I had just started working full time and I was enjoying my new salary. I couldn’t be bothered trying to sell my used car, so after donating the old clunker to charity, I confidently strolled into the Volkswagen dealership to pick out a brand new Jetta.

The salesman must have heard cash registers going off in his head as he looked me over and saw me for the easy mark I was.

I’m not proud to admit it.  I got taken.

I bought a car alright, but I ended up with more extra features than I needed or wanted. I also paid a lot more than I had planned.

But the next time around it was a whole different story. I had picked up some car buying tips and tricks over the years and I was able to use them to my advantage to get myself a great deal. Of course these tips are also good when you’re leasing a car too.

You can do the same if you follow these 6 simple new car buying tips:

1. Know what you want before you even get close to the dealership. Research the different car models online so you can walk into the dealership knowing exactly what you want.  Skilled salesmen can easily talk undecided buyers into unnecessary upgrades and features.

2. Do your homework. There are plenty of websites that offer new car reviews, pricing, and comparisons of different models. The more knowledge you have the better informed your choice will be. The dealer’s invoice price is especially important. Dealers hate when you know how much they paid for the car because it takes away one of their biggest edges in negotiating car prices.

3. Dealers love to combine the purchase price, finance charges, and value of your trade-in into one negotiation. This way they can play with numbers and try to confuse you into thinking they’re giving up more than they are. You can keep them from doing this by insisting they negotiate each individually.

4. You can take away one of the dealer’s biggest bargaining chips if you secure financing ahead of time. Go to your bank or credit union and secure a new car loan before you head to the dealer. This lets you focus strictly on the price of the car. Once you’ve agreed on a price, you can always see if the dealer will beat the rate you already have.

5. When buying a car, timing is key. You want to hit the dealer when he is most likely to give you a good deal. The ideal time is just before the next year’s models arrive as they will need to make room for the new stock. You can get a great deal on the previous year’s model.

The end of the month is also a good time because salesmen who are short of their monthly quota will be pushing hard to make sales. Also, go late at night an hour or two before the dealership closes. They’ll be more anxious to close the deal so they can go home and see their families.

6. Above all, whenever you are negotiating new car prices with a dealer you must continuously remind yourself…”This guy is NOT my friend.” Don’t fall for the old “I really want to give you a good deal. It’s my boss that’s taking a hard line here.”

The salesman’s goal is to get you to pay as much money as possible. He doesn’t want to be your friend and he doesn’t want to invite you to his house for a barbecue. All he sees when he looks at you is dollar signs. Remember that, and take everything he says with a grain of salt.  And read over the paperwork carefully before signing, sometimes they add things like gap insurance or rust protection without even asking if you want it.

Follow these simple car buying tips and tricks and you’ll drive off the lot knowing you got the best deal possible.

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Mike is a freelance writer and blogger who specializes in finance and parenting topics. He is a dedicated husband and father of three who is obsessed with creating multiple streams of income and building wealth so he can achieve true financial freedom for his family. Like what you're reading? Subscribe to our free RSS feed and follow us on Twitter.

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  1. says

    Some very good tips in there Mike. Especially having your financing arranged prior to negotiating the sale price. It’s just one less thing the dealer can leverage against you. I did corporate vehicle sales & leasing for 16 years and the only other tip I could advise your readers is to bypass the showroom salesmen altogether and ask to deal with the dealership’s fleet sales department. They sell in volume to brokers, rental & leasing companies, corporate accounts, but most people don’t realize they can deal directly with the fleet department as an individual. The retail departments hate this, because fleet will generally sell you a vehicle near invoice cost, or slightly over depending on the availability. It’s a very easy way to buy a car, without all of the requisite back and forth negotiating you get from the typical line salesmen.

  2. says

    Mike, I honestly think that rule number 3 is actually the most important. That’s where most customers fall and end up with alot more than they planned.

    And second, but not last: it’s not always that you know how much they’ve paid for the car, because deals are made different with business owners and most of the times customers come to them with the cars, giving them the opportunity to pick a bargain.


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