After driving our family Explorer into the ground, we finally had to succumb to getting a new car. This can be a daunting process for sure…what do you buy? What features have priority over the rest? And then once you choose the car of your dreams, how do you negotiate and what do you ask for? Here are some tips that might help you get going because no matter how much money you have (or don’t), who wants to give it all away?
With all of the sites available to review new and used cars, you can quickly get overwhelmed so shape your search around some basic questions:
- Who is driving the car: Experienced adults or new drivers?
- Based on the above answer, certain features will take precedence. New driver: safety stats and features matter. Experienced adult: maybe invest a bit more to get that convertible or high powered car you have always wanted. Prioritize so you can easily create a wishlist and so you are clear once you arrive at the dealership.
- Next is the dealership near where you live? I personally like the idea of using the same dealership to service the car. Even though car maintenance is not an every day occurrence, it can be a pain when the time comes. Who wants to drive an hour to drop the car and come pick it up afterwards? Location matters. Also their service record matters so check their online reviews.
- Lease vs. own. Need the car for the short term and you are driving less that 10k miles per year and cash flow matters? Lease is your deal. Want an asset where you can pay it off and not have a monthly cost? Buy it. There are other sites that can provide more details on this but you get the idea.
Once you decide the make and model of the car, it’s time for a test drive. That’s a given but also spend time with your sales person and learn how the car brand makes their deals. It’s not as subjective as you might think. Here is how I pulled off the deal of the century:
- I came to the dealership knowing two things: which car I wanted and why and my credit score.
- After the test drive, I shared my score and asked for their best deal and found that credit scores fall into predetermined categories which then determine the basic pricing. The dealerships decide from there how much wiggle room they want to allow.
- I received the best pricing from this first dealership and left. I did not, and I repeat, I did not make the deal right then and there even though I could have.
- I spent the rest of the afternoon calling other dealerships close to where I live. I was very clear when I called…I told them what car I wanted, the deal I was offered and I wanted to pick up the car by the end of the week and could they do better. Some dealers responded well and called me right back with pricing but every once in a while you get a surprise. One dealership told me they would not negotiate over the phone…needless to say they lost out completely.
- By the end of the day it came down to 2 dealerships and neither were the original I went to who, by the way, would not budge on price and said the others were crooks (he didn’t scare me but I did take his info and presented to the other dealers to get a sense if they were lying…they weren’t).
- My final step was to meet the dealership I had the best deal with and they were true to their word and totally delivered. At the end of the day, I reduced my monthly lease by 76%, had multiple guarantees (on tires and more) and free maintenance for the whole lease.
It was a good day!