Shopping for a new vehicle can be challenging, especially with prices all over the place. Locating a vehicle is easy, but finding one that won’t cost you more than you should pay for takes extra work. With this in mind, we’ve outlined seven steps to help you find a new vehicle at a price you can afford.
Step No. 1: Begin your new vehicle research online.
Instead of visiting the dealer lot first, begin your search online to check out local inventories. A web search of the vehicle you want by make and model should reveal the nearest dealerships, although you aren’t obligated to buy local. If you see something you like, then reach out to the dealership and ask for the Internet Manager to confirm the model’s availability and price. You’ll get a quote over the phone without having to set foot inside a showroom, although it may not be the final price.
Step No. 2: Shop for a loan.
You may find that the new vehicle dealer is offering specials on car loans. Typically, they’re offered as a choice between a low rate and cashback – you can have one, but not both. We recommend that you reach out to your bank or credit union and get quoted for a loan. If the rate is competitive, receive approval from the financial institution before heading to the dealership. That way, you’ll keep an important component out of the negotiating process. Moreover, you can claim the cash instead. Please note that if you come in with low-rate financing, your dealer may ask to beat the rate AND allow you to claim the cashback. That’s a double win no matter how you look at it!
Step No. 3: Read the online reviews.
If you have a choice of dealerships in your area, how will you make your selection? Word of mouth is one of the best ways to find out. For instance, if a friend recently purchased a vehicle from a certain dealership, ask this person about their experience. You can also read online reviews, such as Yelp and Google. Finally, reach out to the Better Business Bureau to uncover whether there were any complaints lodged against the dealer. Multiple complaints should encourage you to look elsewhere.
Step No. 4: Negotiate your price.
There is the sticker price and then there is the price you have in mind for your vehicle. Unless you’re buying a rare or highly popular model where demand outstrips supply, expect to save money off the sticker price. Oftentimes, consumers can negotiate hundreds if not thousands of dollars off the price. Moreover, there are qualifying rebates supplied by the manufacturer that can lower your costs further, including recent college graduate, military appreciation, and loyalty or conquest deals. The manufacturer’s website lists all current discounts, typically under financing or “special deals.” Use this information in your negotiation to help lower your cost.
Step No. 5: Be mindful of fees and other costs.
Before you sign on the dotted line, be aware of additional fees that will be added to your cost. The destination charge, state and local taxes and tags are extra and non-negotiable. You may find that paying these extras upfront will save you money in the long run. Also, dealers will try to talk you into buying an extended warranty. These plans usually kick in once the original warranty comes to an end. Therefore, you’ll pay for a warranty without being able to use it until years later. The better decision is to buy the warranty later or simply skip it and set aside the cash for potential repairs as you go.
Step No. 6: Consider a trade-in.
Should you trade your vehicle in or sell it separately? That’s a good question. In brief, you’ll do better selling your old vehicle privately. On the other hand, the amount of marketing time required to sell it can prove daunting. That’s why most people prefer to trade it in. However, before you do that, bring the vehicle up to its selling condition by cleaning it inside and out. Remove all personal items and consult Kelley Blue Book for its value. At a minimum, you should get the estimated cost for what a dealer would pay, but you may get more if your vehicle is in top shape.
Step No. 7: Put all your documents in order.
You’ve arranged to finance and you hold the title to your current vehicle. Next, bring with you to the dealership your driver’s license, loan details, the title, registration, and your insurance card. Also, bring with you the loan paperwork or a check to cover the down payment and related expenses. Quite easily, you may speed at least four hours in the dealership finalizing everything. You can shorten the process by bringing the appropriate documentation with you.
New Vehicle Purchasing Miscellany
Keep in mind that you’ll be at the dealership for hours. This can wear you down physically and emotionally. Visit your dealership on a full stomach and bring something to drink, such as water. The long wait is not only taxing, but it can cause you to miss out on something important, including signing for a warranty you truly did not want.
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