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Whether you're buying a car from a dealership or an individual buyer there are things you can do in order to make sure you get the best deal possible. After all, if you're making a major purchase you should try to save money where you can, right?
Buying a car from a Dealership
Don't ever accept the sticker price for a vehicle, and don't ever, ever feel like the dealership isn't trying to get as much money from you as possible. Car salespeople are taught to get money from you in many different ways, so be on the defensive.
- Walk into the dealership with financing in place. You should always go into the dealership with a check from your bank or credit union already in your hand. It's a great bargaining tool. If the dealership can indeed offer you lower interest on financing with better terms then take it, but it's a good idea to have financing in place in case the dealership can't beat it.
- Have a plan and stick to it. Tell your salesperson, "I'm going to give you this amount of money for this car, and I will absolutely not spend any more than that." Don't pay docking fees or other stuff they add on to make more money. The amount you say you're going to spend is the amount you'll spend, period.
- Know the real value of the car. If you're buying a used car you should find out the real value of the car before you agree to buy it. Bring along a Kelley Blue Book or have access to the Internet to search for the value. Don't spend more on a car than it's worth.
- Know the real value of your trade-in. If you are trading in a car you should research its value beforehand. You'll probably get a better deal if you take the time to sell the car yourself, but trading in can be quite convenient as long as you get a fair price.
- Don't accept add-ons. Even if you don't get financing through the dealership they'll try to talk you into buying credit protection, GAP protection, extended warranties, and all the other add-ons that make them money. Don't buy these things through the dealership. If you really want them you can usually get them through your lender or another source for a lot less money.
- Go on a day when nobody else does. Is it a torrential rain storm outside? It's a perfect day to go shop for a car! If you go on a day when nobody else would ever think of browsing at cars you may be able to get a better deal because you might be the only person your salesperson talks to all day. They have quotas to meet, after all.
- Walk away. If you aren't getting the deal you want then walk out of the dealership. Nine times out of ten you'll get to the door when
suddenly the salesperson will stop you and accept your terms.
- Have the money in your hand. If the car you're buying is advertised as $5000, approach the seller with $4000 in cash. The sight of actual cash
is powerful, and may get you the car for much less.
- Haggle. It may feel weird to haggle with someone who isn't a salesperson by trade, and it may even feel a little impolite. Don't let
this stop you from negotiating a good deal.
- Show up informed. Have a print out of the car's value in your hand to show that you know exactly how much the car is worth. Some sellers may
not even be sure what their cars are worth! Don't pay any more than the smallest value listed.
Buying a Car from an individual
It's not all that different, but there are a couple of other things to keep in mind:
Negotiating the selling price on a car is a lot like a game. There is a lot of psychology involved and as long as you don't get intimidated easily you can save quite a bit of money on your car purchase.
Let the games begin.
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