Buying a car for the first time can be a stressful and frustrating experience. Often, you don’t know what you want, you don’t know what to expect, and you don’t know whether you’re getting a good deal or not. There’s a lot happening there that stands between you and a great car. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Being a smart, informed consumer is good when buying anything, but especially good when buying such a big purchase, like a car. Whether it’s your first or fiftieth time buying a new car, here are 10 things you should know before walking into a dealership.
Figure out Exactly What You Want
It may seem obvious but knowing beforehand what kind of car you’re looking for, what trims and features you need to have, and any specific questions about the dealership can save you lots of time and money when it comes to speaking with a dealer. Being clueless is the first things dealers will jump on when they want to force you into a sale. A little bit of time on your part can go a long way when purchasing a new car.
Know Your Budget, and Stick with It
Being forced into a deal with the money you didn’t plan on spending is never pleasant. Having a budget, whether it’s a high one or low one, is a good indicator to dealers that you know what you’re doing. Being firm on it is another thing. Don’t be pressured into spending money on features that you don’t need at a price you can’t afford. Not surprisingly, sticking to your budget is the best way not to go over it.
Find Different Financing Options
Financing and finding out how much you can afford to pay every month, is another important thing to consider when it comes to paying for your car. While almost every car dealership offers financing options, it doesn’t hurt to look around at local banks and credit unions to find a lower interest rate. Getting financing from a dealership isn’t bad, but some dealerships have hidden fees for contracting financing options, and those can lead to extra money out of your wallet into theirs.
Save Yourself from Embarrassment and Check Your Credit Score
No one likes to have their card declined at the register. It’s just plain embarrassing. It’s the same case with your credit score. If you’re not paying right away with cash (because who has $50,000 for a car just lying around) knowing your credit score beforehand can set you up for a good deal with interest rates. Better credit scores can land you better discounts, and who doesn’t love a little (or a lot) of extra change in their pocket?
Know What Else Is Out There
Part of being an informed consumer is knowing what your options are. Once you have in mind what kind of car you’re looking for, start doing research and asking around about where you can get that car for the best deal. Compare things like price, financing options, and overall customer satisfaction before you settle on the best one. There are many different online and human resources for this that can get you the information you need for finding the perfect car.
Know Who You’re Talking To
It’s always a good idea to research the dealers you’re interested in buying your car from. While they’re not always 100% accurate, reviews from past consumers are generally fair and can tell you a lot about what to expect from a dealership. People love to talk, especially if they don’t like something, so finding honest reviews, whether online or from a person, let you know if you should stick with your dealer or move on to a different dealership to buy your car.
Stalk Your Car’s Past Life
You know when you Google someone before a date to figure out if they’re crazy? This is kind of like that. It may sound strange but stalking (or researching, call it what you will) your car’s history is an important step to figuring out if you’re getting a sensible deal for the kind of car at hand. Online resources are available through certain websites, and using them lets you know of any previous accidents or other incidents relating to your car.
Use the Most Opportune Time
Some things have a better outcome if they’re done at a certain time, like studying for a test. Buying a car is like that because dealers give you really good discounts and are more willing to negotiate well when it’s the end of the year. They want to empty out some stock room for the latest incoming cars, so buying a car during that time gets you a better deal overall if you don’t care about getting the newest models.
Take It for a Spin
Once you find the car that calls to you, it’s a good idea to get a feel for its drive and see if it runs as is expected by taking it for a test drive. This is really important when it comes to buying a used car. The dealer might not tell you that it makes a funny grinding sound every time you drive uphill, and you don’t want to find that out later after you’ve already paid and it’s too late to turn back.
Finally, one of the most important things to know before buying a new car is that you’re in control. Car dealers are known to be a little pushy when it comes to sales, and whether that’s true or not, ultimately, it’s your decision. You just have to come prepared with the facts, and be willing to firmly say no or ask questions if something doesn’t look like. Remaining calm and collected during a sale is a sure-fire way to get your dream car at a great deal.