Shopping for a used car is one of those things that’s rarely as fun, or as easy as it may seem. Hidden behind a vast array of multi-colored balloons, helpful handshakes, and friendly smiles. Lies an entire industry with one goal in mind – to get as much of your money as possible. Not all used car dealers are sinister, though. But they definitely have the upper hand against an unprepared shopper. Thankfully, there’s a lot of things you can do to arm yourself for a fair fight. Here are a few tactics to ensure a smooth experience the next time you visit a used car dealer.
Know What You Can Afford and Prepare
First off, you’ll need to know about how much you want to spend, or can afford each month. It’s easy to fall for a luxury vehicle with all the bells and whistles, but can you afford it? Here are a few things you can do early on to ensure things are more likely to go in your favor:
Dealers use a “what if” strategy to make you second-guess what is available to you. Visiting a lender before visiting a dealership will help you maintain control rather than give it away. Be sure to scan your approval letter for mention of a down-payment. With your approval in hand, you can start searching for a model that you like.
Research Different Models
Once you’ve got an approval letter, you can start researching different models and how much they cost. Depending on what part of the country you live in, there may also be sales tax to factor in. You should also be sure to leave room for title and registration fees. Last but not least, consider looking up the fuel economy of any models you find interesting to assess the monthly cost.
Watch for Dealer Financing
Dealers are masters of switching you off of a pre-approval to consider their own in-house options. While sometimes they are in fact able to save you money by getting a lower rate. They often suggest extending the term by 12-24 months as a way to lower your payments. You should be aware though, that more taxes will be paid during that extended period. This can often total hundreds or thousands of extra dollars being spent.
Negotiating the Best Price for Used Cars
Now that you’ve prepared, it’s time to check out some pre-owned cars for sale. If you haven’t already, you may want to call the used-car dealer ahead-of-time to double check anything you may have found online. Here are a few of the best tips we’ve found for negotiating on a car you like:
Free Online Tools
Dealers almost always ask an inflated price for each vehicle; you can combat this by doing a free car value check online using NADA or KBB. Most of the time, you can also just ask your sales associate to produce one. Also listed is a trade in number, which is often around what they paid initially for the vehicle. You should try to stay between this number and the suggested retail price if possible.
How Many Days On The Lot
If you’ve found yourself stuck and can’t get them to budge on the price, consider asking for a printout showing how long the vehicle’s been on the lot. Try to save this for later though, since if it’s a newer unit it may backfire. If it’s been longer than 90 days, depreciation is a strong reason to sell now rather than risk holding onto it any longer.
Negotiate Price Not Payment
Remember to stay focused on the price of the vehicle, not the payment. Dealers are great at talking around the asking price and shifting focus to the monthly payment. Know your approval and stick to it. You should also consider using a free online payment calculator since often a dealer will add some fluff.
If All Else Fails – Get Some Free Stuff Thrown in
If the dealer isn’t budging and you’re about to throw in the towel and agree – at least get some free stuff thrown in. Be firm, and demand yourself an auto-start or some window tinting, dealers cost on these is very low. At the very least, don’t ever buy a car without a full tank of gas.
Additional Items to Consider
- Warranty Start Date
- CarFax and AutoCheck
- Printout of Shop Report
- Check Out Our Previous Article for Getting the Most for Your Trade
Until Then There’s AutoDigg.Com
It’s no surprise that there’s an air of annoyance when it comes to getting the best car deals possible. Dealers are often tough to deal with and hard to compete against. Thankfully, due to technology advancements, new ways to approach the buying process have helped to make it easier. AutoDigg.Com - a 100% free and easy solution that connects buyers with reputable dealers, all from the comfort of your own home. Contact information is kept entirely confidential up until the point you’ve agreed on a specific vehicle. Simply create an account, specify the make, model, color, and year of the car you’re after, and dealers will compete to produce a competitive price.
ATake control of your next automotive purchase by coming prepared and ready to deal, using AutoDigg.com