Today's post is all about the best car buying tips so that you can save money when buying a car.
Not all car dealerships and car salesmen are bad. I know this for a fact because my husband used to be a new car salesman (and he was nice! I promise!). My husband knows all about the flack that salesmen get.
Despite the reputation car salesmen get, the car buying process is not perfect either.
Whether you are purchasing a new or used vehicle, there are several car buying tips and tricks you should know of so that you can walk away with the best deal possible. There are so many options and extras that come up when buying a car, which means there are many ways for you to end up leaving confused or paying more than you should be.
Whether you are buying a $500 car or a $50,000 one, you want to get the best deal possible. To make sure you don’t walk away from a deal angry or regretful, it’s important to be as knowledgeable as possible.
According to Edmunds.com, the average person in the U.S. spends $483 on a new car payment and $361 on a used car payment.
That's a lot of money, which can leave a lot of room for mistakes and overpayment.
Before we begin, I want to tell you about several ways that car dealerships make their money. These are things you will want to be mindful of:
- Your trade-in vehicle. To make a profit on your used car, they will want to offer you less money than they can sell it for. Of course, this is normal, but you want to be mindful of this so that you can get the most money out of your trade-in vehicle.
- Incentives and bonuses from the car manufacturer. This means that if you can buy a car when a dealership hasn’t reached their selling quota, you may be able to get a great deal on your car purchase. Many times car dealerships will take a loss on the vehicle if it means that they will be able to reach their quota.
- Financing the vehicle. Dealerships make money when you finance vehicles through them.
- Extra options, such as an extended warranty.
Buying a new car can be fun and stressful at the same time. You don't want to get tricked or duped, so here are car buying tips and tricks before you start shopping!
The best car buying tips:
Don't just think about the monthly payment.
The most important car buying tip I can offer in this blog post is that you should not just care about the monthly payment.
You should only purchase what you can actually afford. Just because the monthly car payment looks affordable, it doesn't mean that it actually is.
There are car payment terms that are as long as 96 months, which is just crazy to me. A car salesperson may stretch out the car payment so that it looks to be more affordable for you, but you should be aware of the whole cost, which includes things like interest and taxes.
Please, please, please, look at the whole cost and see if that's actually an affordable amount for you to be paying.
Shop around for your own financing.
If you have to finance your car purchase, make sure you shop around before you agree to the dealer's interest rate. Sometimes the dealer has the lowest rate, but sometimes they don't.
You may be able to save yourself hundreds of dollars a year by simply shopping around. Plus, it's extremely easy to shop around for the best interest rates – start with local credit unions and banks!
Go to a few car dealerships.
You can shop around car dealerships both online and offline.
I recommend shopping online before you go to a dealership, this way you can be prepared by learning as much as possible in advance. You also won’t be wasting your time at car dealerships that can't get down to the price you want.
Don't add small and unnecessary extras at the end of your purchase.
When you are about to purchase a car, you will be encouraged to buy many small options that you may not need. This may include extras such as:
- Tire replacement
- Paint protection
- Extended warranties
While you may believe that you need some of the above options, you should make sure that you're not just thinking about the monthly cost. The financing manager will offer you these extras in a way that makes it seem affordable. But, these extras only appear inexpensive because they are padded into your monthly cost, so don’t be fooled by how “affordable” they seem.
Yeah, $1 or $5 each month may not seem like much, but it can add up to a lot over a 5 year period!
Trust me, you are paying for these, and it's not just a good deal that you are getting.
Related: 30+ Ways To Save Money Each Month
Determine how much your trade-in is worth.
If you have a trade-in vehicle, you should figure out how much it is worth before you step foot into a car dealership.
Kelley Blue Book is a great resource for doing this. While you may not get the exact amount that Kelley Blue Book claims you will get, it can be a good estimator or starting point when negotiating with the car dealership.
Know the right time to go.
There are certain times of the month and year that are better for car shopping than others. If a dealership is trying to meet their sales quota, they are more likely to give you a deal than when they've already beat their quota or if it's the beginning of their quota.
This is because car manufacturers will give bonuses and extra incentives to car dealerships who sell a certain amount of vehicles. This gives car dealerships extra motivation to give really good deals if they are close to their quota.
I know someone who was able to lease a brand new car for just $70 per month, with no money down, because a car dealership needed to meet their quota. They got one heck of a deal!
To know the best time to go, you may want to make friends with a car salesperson, find out when their end of month or end of quarter is, and so on. Or, you could just ask. My husband would always tell people when the best time to buy was and would even call them, but many people did not believe him. If they only knew!
Don't be afraid to negotiate.
Even if you get a discount, such as a car manufacturer discount, you should still negotiate. Many times, those friends and family discounts mean that you are not able to haggle at all, which can lead to you actually paying a higher price.
Cars sales are meant to be negotiated, whether it is a brand new vehicle or a used one. If you don’t haggle, you will most likely lose out on a lot of money, because negotiating is expected.
Other aspects of the vehicle buying process can be haggled on as well, this includes your trade-in vehicle, warranties, interest rates, add-ons, and more.
Learn more about negotiating at How To Rock At Negotiating On Everything.
No matter what, you should be a decent human being.
Being rude won't get you the best deal, instead it may make the salesperson and the dealership not want to help you. After you purchase a car you are asked to go through the car manufacturer to grade your car salesperson. If the salesperson knows that you might give them a bad grade, they may not want your deal because it's not worthwhile to them to have a bad score (which decreases their salary/income).
Plus, you should always be nice anyways. Salespeople are just doing their job and trying to make a living, and the majority of them are good people.
Miscellaneous car buying tips and tricks.
Here are several other car buying tips and tricks:
- Never shop when you're hungry or tired. You should always be well-rested and ready for an eventful day.
- For the car dealership to beat their quota, sometimes they will buy a new car themselves and put it on the “used” car dealership side. The car is still brand new, but is now considered pre-owned. This can allow you to save a good deal of money. However, you do want to be mindful of the warranty, because the warranty has most likely started once the car was officially bought the first time (by the car dealership).
- Purchase a car at the end of the car's model year. Dealerships want to move out last year's model to make room for the new ones, which can lead to a good discount.
- Look into car insurance rates before you purchase. You may want to contact your car insurance agent so that you are not surprised by a high insurance rate after you make a purchase.
- Don't tell the salesperson what your budget is for a monthly payment. You should always negotiate on price first. A dealership will try to get you into something that will just barely fit your monthly payment budget, which can cause you to spend a lot more money in the long run.
- Be confident. When negotiating, you should always be confident in what you are saying, and do not be afraid to walk away. If it's not meant to be, then it's just not.
What other car buying tips and tricks do you know of? Share in the comments below!
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