Buying a new car may be an every-day occurrence for some
people, but for most of us it’s a pretty big deal, and these days, even small
cars often have prices that are not that different from the down payment for a
home. It is possible to save money at the dealer’s lot, however. Here’s how.
Especially on leased or used vehicles, the bulk of a dealer’s profit comes from their in-house financing, so if you want to save a significant amount of money that you’d otherwise pay in interest, your best bet is to visit your bank or credit union, and go to the dealer with your financing already arranged. If the dealer suggests they can beat the terms of the loan you have, ask them to put it in writing, and check their numbers with your own calculator.
Do Your Homework.
Before you ever set foot on a car lot, make a short list of the kinds of cars you want, and how much you’re willing to spend. Use magazines, print advertising, and the internet to research prices, options and availability. Formulate any questions you may have, and write them down so you won’t forget to ask them.
Shop Mid-Month, but Buy at the End.
It’s long been a myth that you should buy a car at the end of the month, when sales people are pushing to make their sales quotas, but it’s equally important that you be prepared for the pressure they’ll be exerting. To maximize your savings, and minimize their influence, make your first visit to a dealership or used car lot in the middle of the month. Take your test drive, gather information, and determine what options you want. Then, spend a week or two working out your financing (if you haven’t already), and researching the model you’ve chosen. Return to the
salesperson at the end of the month, ready to buy, and do some hard negotiations.
When you go back to the dealership to actually buy your car, take copious notes. Not only will this give you a written record of what was said, and what price you were quoted, it makes it impossible for any salesperson to change the price mid-stream. Most salespeople would never do this, of course, but it can never hurt to be too careful, and it prevents you from paying more than you should.
Remember that buying a car is one of the most significant things we can do, and one of the most expensive. Never be afraid to walk away if you feel you aren’t getting the best deal, or if you don’t like the way you’re being treated. There is always another dealership down the block.