This is part 2 of a two-part article on surviving the ordeal of buying a car. Part 1 set the stage:
“Life is full of experiences that might be best described as ordeals. Swimming with dolphins may be cool but swimming with sharks? … Maybe not so much.”
- Plan to Swim with the Car Sharks
Research has revealed your prey: you know which car you want to buy and how much you are willing to pay for it. Now it’s time to swoop in for the – uh – victory. It’s time to plan which vehicle outlets to visit and schedule a good day and time.
Do you prefer to shop alone or would a friend, relative, or trusted adviser help, if only by providing moral support? A cunning companion might even cast mildly disapproving or even downright disparaging remarks about the cars you like while you wander the aisles of parked sale cars and take a test drive – all within earshot of the sales sharks, of course.
Allow as much time as possible to visit car lots and go on test drives. A vehicle purchase is something you will have to live with for quite some time. It is a significant expense in most people’s lifetimes. Avoid being in a rush and never give in to sales pressure to make a decision on the spot.
- Firm Up Your Financial Footing
Get your free annual credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com and take it with you to the car dealership. This will prevent any misunderstandings about your credit-worthiness from the get-go. The sales staff and finance manager may well try to convince you that you are a much bigger credit risk than you really are.
Assume an attitude of confident expertise when dealing with salespeople. This will disarm them. All sharks prey upon chum (dead meat tossed in the water as bait) and understand that fellow sharks are not suitable game.
Walk in with poise and be prepared to leave the same way, even if that means you leave empty-handed. Despite what a zealous car salesperson will try to make you believe, there are tons and tons of cars out there just waiting to be purchased. It is highly unlikely that the car left behind at this particular lot is singular and unique – although it might be.
- Haste Makes Waste
Never let a sales rep pressure you into making a hasty decision, as mentioned before. Carry your mobile app device with you and consult Edmunds.com or other auto trading website as you check out what is available. Confirm what the dealer says about the market value of your prospective purchase.
- Timing is Everything
Shop for a car on the last day of the month. Sales staff commissions are based on monthly totals and you are much likelier to get a screamin’ good deal if the person behind the office desk is motivated by the promise of some extra income, even if it means making less money for the dealership.
- The Best Defense is a Good Offense
Rather than let the salesperson wear you down with praise and excess enthusiasm on a specific car, turn the tables by coming prepared with all sorts of questions you can ask during an extended test drive. Find out the wheel diameter, fuel tank capacity, location of lights and windshield wipers – anything to keep the shark swimming in circles.
By the time you get back to the lot, if you still want to bargain for the vehicle, the sales rep should be ready to finish up with you and get on to the next chum.
9.Play the Endgame to Win
Spending lots of time pre-occupying the salesperson will bear fruit during the traditional back-and-forth negotiation game played in the rep’s office. They offer you a high price and, unless you’re from Planet Excess Wealth, you counter it with a lower one. A smart car shopper brings competitor coupons in for a price match to sweeten the deal.
The rep excuses her/himself and heads to their manager’s office while you wait. TIP: Bring some good reading material.
The rep returns, usually with a no answer. This ritual continues, sometimes for far too long. Be prepared to stand up and say you’re heading to a competitor’s log while you think about this offer.
- Last Steps to Acquisition Victory
Once the finance manager signs off on your price, avoid adding extra expenses to the final sale. These can really mount up. You probably don’t need an extended warranty, car alarms, or pin-striping. Do get the basic warranty terms explained so you can understand what is covered and what isn’t.
Go inspect the vehicle again with the manager. Mention while you make a list of body dings, dimples, or other damage. Check out the interior for scuffs or torn fabric. Are there any missing knobs or broken controls? Tell the manager you would appreciate having the dealership fix all these problems, at their expense.
Get a manager’s signature on any legally binding agreements you make before the actual purchase in case the sales rep leaves the dealership for a better gig.
See if you can get the service manager at the dealership to give you a coupon for some free oil changes. If the gas tank is low from test drives, ask for a gas voucher to top it off. The worst they can say is no. But why would they? You just shelled out some significantly large funds in their direction.
Schedule any repair service before you drive away in your new, best bargained-for automobile!