Buying a new car is a considerable investment. The key to a better decision is knowledge.
We encourage every member to learn more about the car-buying process — and the car itself before they begin shopping. Just like the salesperson is adept at selling a vehicle, you need to be a savvy shopper, which means knowing as much as possible about the car, negotiating techniques, and making a fair offer.
Be an informed consumer.
Shopping for the car is fun, but removing emotion from the equation is essential. Gathering facts about the car you’re interested in is an excellent way to be more informed and objective about the purchase. We recommend that you review safety features, maintenance requirements, insurance costs and fuel expense, and customer ratings. And ask plenty of questions! This knowledge will help you decide how much vehicle you can afford, its reliability and practicality, and actual cost.
Other resources, such as www.edmunds.com, www.nada.com, www.kbb.com (Kelly Blue Book), or www.consumerreports.org, are also available. All can give you a more objective viewpoint.
Trust Your Instincts
Always take the car for a test drive. How does it feel and sound? Check the vehicle for comfort, noise level, easy in and out, acceleration, and braking. If buying a pre-owned vehicle, ask a mechanic to check the car out before you buy.
Wait a Day
Emotional choices don’t always produce the best results. After you find a vehicle, give yourself a day to contemplate. This waiting period will put the advantage in your corner and make things more uncertain for the dealer, who may lose the sale – primarily if you’re reflecting on other offers or reevaluating your options. Never let yourself feel pressured to decide on the spot. If a dealer is pressuring you, walk away.
Protect Your Credit
We want to remind you that car dealers do not need to run your credit history to let you take a test drive. And when it comes to financing, see us first. We can get you preapproved, so you’ll have less pressure when shopping. Like closing the sale, don’t feel pressured to accept dealer financing.
Secure the Right Price
There are three keys to securing your best purchase price: use the “cost-up method when negotiating, budget by the car’s purchase price (not by payment), and keep all transactions separate.
For the best results:
- Negotiate the price of your car using the “cost-up” method – not from the “sticker price down.” First, use the dealer cost (which is available online) as your starting price point. Next, ask the dealer how much above dealer cost they are willing to sell the vehicle. Car prices range greatly. But most professionals consider buying a vehicle at $300 to $500 above cost a fair deal.
- Budget by the vehicle’s purchase price, not by monthly payment. Why? It’s too easy to forgo sensible budget objectives when shopping by payment — and you may spend more or land in an extended term that doesn’t make sense.
- Keep all transactions separate. These include the car’s purchase price, the financing, and the trade-in or sale of your existing vehicle. Combining the three can lead to you paying more, and the dealer can leverage the situation to their advantage. For example, they may short-change you on your car’s trade-in value, push a higher financing rate, or include unnecessary add-ons. Always negotiate the car’s price first, and secure financing separately, with the understanding that dealer financing isn’t usually your best deal.
Determine Your Current Car’s Value.
Always determine the value of your current vehicle before shopping. And as discussed above, keeping your trade-in separate from the purchase price will give you more leverage. If you feel the dealer is not offering a fair trade-in value, shop elsewhere. You can also sell your vehicle independently – and can often do better.
Gain Added Perspective
Previously, women, older adults, minorities, and first-time buyers were considered easy targets in dishonest car-selling tactics. These tactics may have included a bait-and-switch approach, dealer add-ons (and folding these into a “monthly payment” approach), marking up the APR in the financing, and adding unfair fees into the purchase price. This article details many of these unscrupulous tactics.
These unscrupulous dealer scams, unfortunately, are commonplace. Vulnerable individuals may be more susceptible to paying inflated pricing, accepting fake vehicle history reports and financing fraud, or getting conned into buying a lemon. And after the purchase, convinced to make unnecessary repairs.
There is good news!
Thanks to the internet, a plethora of transparent vehicle information has helped to level the playing field, enabling anyone to learn more and be an informed shopper. We encourage you to research and ask plenty of questions.
If you’re unsure, take along a friend or family member experienced in car buying. They can help ask more pointed questions to help clarify or give support if you decide to end the conversation. And remember, always do your homework ahead of time!
Call us at 989.910.5135. When you turn to North Central, we’ll make sure you get the best car deal.