financial planning

10 Useful Tips for the Best Deal When Buying from a Dealership

Buying a car at a dealership can come with its own set of headaches, so we’ve compiled the top 10 tips for how to negotiate car prices and what to avoid when buying a car.

Even in the light of day, the shadows creep, the good weep, and the innocent fall prey to the sinister deals made at the Devil’s crossroads. The bargaining chip of all power is simply knowledge, and for too long, the knowledge has been gatekept by those that would wish to see you sign away your soul for temporary liberation.

We don’t gatekeep information, and we’re not willing to let you walk blindly into the fires of car-buying without preparing you on how to avoid the burn. Take these 10 car-buying tips as an armament to protect yourself from the eternal anguish of being trapped in a devil’s bargain.

1. Be firm but kind.

2. Don’t reveal a trade-in.

3. Know everything about the car.

4. Walk away.

5. Bring backup.

6. Get a pre-approval.

7. Don’t drive the new car off the lot.

8. Avoid frivolous add-ons.

9. Shop during slower times.

10. Review every part of the contract.

1. Be firm but kind, because you’re not gonna get a good deal by acting demonic. 

The world could use a little kindness. A salesperson is doing a job, and a lot of them want to make an honest sale, especially for those that treat them with kindness. You can be amicable and still be firm about what you’re willing to accept.

2. Don’t reveal a trade-in until you’ve seen the final purchase price.

Play your cards close to your chest. Dealers may offset that great trade-in offer you think you’re getting by increasing the final purchase price. Know your trade-in value beforehand, but don’t reveal that you have one until you’ve seen the out-the-door price.

3. Know everything about the car you want before heading into the deal. 

Be the expert in the room. Go to the manufacturer site and learn everything about the features and pricing of the vehicle you plan to buy. This will tell you what is standard for the model and what will cost extra, and you’ll know better what questions to ask a car dealer during the test drive.

4. Walk away if the price is over your budget and negotiations aren’t getting you anywhere.

Turn and walk out. It’s a power move that might get a salesperson to sweeten the deal. Remember, though, a promise spoken is just words forgotten in the ether, so get it in writing. Walking away also allows you to step back from the excitement and anxiety of the moment and buys you time to look at the deal with calm rationality.

5. Bring backup that can keep an eye out for things you might miss.

There’s power in numbers. Bring a quarterback (as the dealers have nicknamed them) who will take notes, try out the passenger-end of the test drive, ask questions you miss, and will be your moral support against any intimidation tactics.

6. Get a pre-approval from your bank or credit union before going to the dealership.

Have the money ready. Even if you’re willing to hear the dealer financing options, get preapproved before even going to the dealership, and let them know you’re already approved. Knowing your car loan options ahead of time will keep you from falling into a bad car loan.

7. Don’t drive the new car off the lot until the deal is 100% final and finance guaranteed. 

Win the waiting game. Spot-delivery is a tricky dealer tactic where they allow you to take your new car home and then call you later to say the finance deal didn’t go through. This often leads to a replacement loan with inferior terms that you’re too panicked not to take. 

8. Avoid frivolous add-ons that would cost a fraction done after purchase.

Just say no. Heavy tinting, door edge protector, tire/windshield protection, trunk trays, roof racks, and on and on. You don’t need to spend $2,000 on extras that you don’t need and could get way cheaper elsewhere. Plus, if you’re financing your purchase, you’re now paying interest on all those add-ons.

9. Shop during slower times like weekday mornings when the salesperson isn’t in a rush.

Take the day off. Don’t expect the best service or attention to detail from your salesperson when it’s almost time to clock out. Take a day off from work during the weekday and head into the dealership in the morning, so you have time to ask all your questions, and you’re not pressured to rush into a deal.

10. Review every part of the contract to ensure it’s all accurate and don’t leave blank spaces. 

Pick them apart. People get flustered by complex contracts, and that self-doubt is where the evil seeps in. You don’t have to speak legalese to see charges or higher interest rates than you agreed to. Maybe it was never curiosity that killed the cat, but ignorance instead. Keep asking questions until it makes sense, and black out any empty fields before signing.

The truth is, car dealers have gotten a bad rap. The industry has been made out to look like a consortium of demons taking advantage of buyer weaknesses. However, it’s our responsibility as consumers to do our research and be knowledgeable about purchases we’re spending thousands of dollars on.

These tips for buying a used car or a new car are a great resource to get you started on the deal of a lifetime. Not all car dealers are out to get you, and some are incredibly helpful advocates with secret deals and discounts if you only ask, but you still have to understand the deal you’re getting into or it’ll never be the right one.

Now that you’re a car-buying expert, apply for an auto loan with SunWest to fulfill Tip #6: Get a pre-approval

August 25, 2023

Published by SunWest Credit Union

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