Has the time come for you to buy a new car? While the car doesn’t actually have to be new, it is still new to you. The new car market is heating up, especially as the new model years are flooding the market. Used cars are still in great demand, which is slowly driving up their prices. With so much selection and information, it can be hard to pinpoint what you need to do when buying a car. Here are some pointers to help you along in the process.
No matter if you plan on buying a new or used car, research is paramount to getting the best car at the best price. With so much data on the internet, you can easily take the time necessary to properly research a car. Here are some points you should look for once you figure out the type of vehicle you want, such as a sedan, truck, suv, or van.
– You probably want a car which has great quality, dependability, and value. Who doesn’t? Check out J.D. Power for reviews and ratings for new and used cars. You can also check many sites like edmunds.com for car ratings. Pick what is most important to you and then dig more.
– Crash test ratings are important. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration has strict standards for newer cars. You can locate IIHS ratings for vehicles 1990 and newer. Check for front impact, side impact, and rear impact tests. Look for vehicles which rate high in all categories to make sure you car will be safe.
– If everyone drove their car into the ground, we wouldn’t have to worry about the resale value. Unfortunately, that just doesn’t happen. Resale value is important if you want to sell your car down the road. Look for a vehicle which carries a low depreciation percentage and keeps its overall value better than others in the same class. When you want to sell, you want to get the most money possible.
– Pricing is often high on the list for car buyers. We want to be able to afford a car and not put ourselves deep in debt to drive one. Check out sites like TrueCar.com to find out what others in your area have been paying for the same vehicle. Sites like this are really useful in arming you with the pricing information you can use when negotiating a final price.
Check Out the Car
Lets face the fact that used cars have been around the block. Some might have been several times. Even certified pre-owned cars have gone through their paces. Yes, they can fetch a higher price for being “certified,” but they are still used. What most don’t know is you can take a used car to get checked out by your favorite mechanic before you buy. You just have to ask. Never take the word of the dealership. Always get a different opinion on a vehicle. Find a reputable mechanic and ask the dealership to take the car there for an inspection.
Most dealers will allow you to do this with no problem. Those are the ones who know the car is in good shape. If you ever encounter someone who gives you a hard time, then put up the red flag. You don’t want to be responsible for expensive repairs once you have the title in hand. Pay a little upfront for the peace of mind.
Get the CarFax Report
We all want to know we aren’t purchasing a lemon. While there are lemon laws in most states, who wants to go through the hassle? Most reputable dealers will share the CarFax report with you. This report typically shows how many owners the car has had, what state it resided in, and any accidents, or major damages to the vehicle. This information is quite useful. This report costs dealers money, but they will give you the report for free to ensure the sale.
Ask for this report when you are looking at a specific car. If the dealership says they will charge you for it, try to negotiate with them. Make it known you want it for free or the deal will go no further. You should never pay for a CarFax report from a dealership.
You can also get one if you are buying a car from an individual. You will have to pay for the report. All you need is the VIN number and the report will be generated in minutes online.
Don’t Reveal Payment Method
When you step onto a dealership, you often get swarmed by salesman. The industry is competitive to say the least. Over the course of talking about a specific car, a salesman might ask how you intend to pay or what payment you are looking for. Never answer this question. Revealing your payment method gives the salesman ways to work the price in their favor.
Many large dealerships are really pushing financing at this time. They will often give you a better deal if they know you are financing. They make good money when you get a car loan. It is not the same for cash. Work on pinning down a price for your car before revealing your payment method. If the salesman tries to back out of the deal or tweak the price, then walk away.
Negotiate the Price You Want
Negotiation is key to buying a car from anyone. You should never settle for the price on the sticker or the price first shown to you. The art of negotiation can be difficult for some, but here are some pointers to get you through the process.
– Know the price you want to pay before even entering the dealership. If you properly do your research, then you will know what you want and should pay for a particular car. Don’t reveal this price to the dealer or seller until you are confident you can achieve it.
– Don’t be afraid to fight the miscellaneous charges dealerships put on their prices. Documentation fees, storage fees, and underwriting of loans are both common practices. You are required to pay for the taxes in your state, but other fees can be negotiated.
– If the dealer or seller is not working with you on the numbers, then walk away. Many people feel that once they start working on a deal, then they need to stay there and finish it. This could be costing you money. The walkout method is actually a negotiation tactic used when buying large items. Depending on how desperate the seller is, you can get a lower price just by walking away.
Forget the Extras
Typically only dealerships offer extras on their cars. People selling their vehicles on Craigslist don’t have such luxuries. If you are purchasing a car at a dealership, then take the added extras with a grain of salt. Most dealerships will upsell their warranties to protect your vehicle. Do the math before even thinking about it. If there is still a manufacturers warranty, that may be more than enough. Just be sure to understand exactly what is and is not covered.
Some dealers will even offer maintenance plans, paint and body protections, and a number of other added extras. Those don’t stop just to the outside of the car. If you can upgrade to a navigation system, then it will cost you handily. You can buy a GPS for around $80. Most smartphones have them incorporated. A dealership might charge you $2,000 for an integrated system. That is quite the markup.
While buying a car is a financial milestone for most, it doesn’t have to be compared to a trip to the dentist. When armed with quality information about the car you want, you can control the negotiations and know you got the car you wanted. Whether it’s new or used, take the time to properly research, test drive, and price compare all vehicles you have interest in. These tips will ensure you have an affordable and dependable car for years to come.
By Grayson Bell, Staff Writer