Tips on buying a car

I replaced the Lotus back in February, yes I know I should have told you sooner.  Now those who’ve had to listen to me rant about the terrible service I got at the car dealership will be wondering how I could possibly give advice since I sat for 8hrs like a zombie waiting to be given the keys to the only car in a 150mile radius that met my specification requirements.  The answer my friends is in the advice I can give you before you go car shopping, and also a few tips on striking the deal.

  1. Know what you want.  Make a wish list, look at magazines, the road around you, anything, but have in your mind the exact things you want.  Getting to the dealership and then pondering out loud on whetehr you need sat-nav or not is a sign to the dealer that you are uncertain on what you want and will encourage them to try and load the deal with expensive “options”.
  2. Do your homework.  Don’t just visit the dealer’s website, or the manufacturer’s website, also visit owners clubs, forums, and review sites.  Be diligent and read as much as you can, and then assess what you’ve read.  For my car the most often mentioned negative feature in press reviews was road noise, but a quick check of the type of tyres installed as standard told me that the tyre was mroe likely to be at fault than the suspension.  Check out those little details, if the car-talk forums are awash with complaints about rattles and cracked trim know what you’re getting into.  If the biggest moan is that the cup-holder is the wrong colour you know you’re onto a safe bet.  Also check out YouTube, and Google for the crash test results.  Watching your prospective new car crash in slow motion might tell you more about the safety than any number of stars on a spec-sheet.
  3. Do your homework.  Again, even when you’ve picked a car or two there is more research to do.  Find all the available dealers in your area, request quotes from all of them.  If they don’t have the exact car you want, ask them how long it would take to get and get a quote.  Don’t expect different garages in the same chain to give you the same answer, ring them up even if they are just across the street from each other because you’ll be amazed how stock inventory gets reported.
  4. Know what you can afford, but don’t tell the dealer.  Know what you want to pay for the car (less than what you can afford and less than the price on the sticker) and now subtract at least $2000 (if the car is over $25000 subtract $5000)  from that number.  The number you are now thinking of is the number you will tell the dealer you want to pay for the car.   Don’t be afraid to say this number, the dealers job isn’t to sell you a car, their job is to extract as much money from you as possible while selling you a car.  Remember the car costs drastically less than the sticker price to build, so don’t be afraid to haggle, if your research revealed “dealer incentives” from the manufacturer (money the dealer gets for selling certain models) subtract that amount from the car’s price too (no point in paying the dealer twice).
  5. Be sensible, never haggle over change.  I’ve heard people haggle over $14 dollars on the car’s price.  Don’t bother, haggle in large round numbers.  The dealership sells in volume and to them the difference of $100 is far less than it is to you, so if you find yourself haggling, make it for a reasonable sum, deal in hundreds if not thousands.
  6. Know when to stop.  Watch the staff, and their management, if the negotiations are dropping to small change, and the delays are getting longer, know that you’re reaching the end of their haggle zone.  If the price is one you want to pay, pay it, otherwise tell them you want to think about it and walk away.  Walking away is a powerful tool if you have the option, especially towards the end of a month when the dealers are trying to make up sales figures.  Let them call you with a counter offer.

So there you have a few car buying tips.  Just remember that some people feel happy haggling, some don’t, if it doesn’t come naturally you should practice.  Run the scenarios in your head and learn how to react.  Don’t be pressured into a deal you don’t want, and know you can always walk away.

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