Buying a car is both exciting and daunting—and with all of the time you spend researching and narrowing down your search, you expect your investment to pay off in a big, 3,000 pound way. The hard truth about car-buying is that there are a number of variables that may stand in between you and your dream car.
From dealer to dealer, it can feel like everyone has their own set of rules when it comes to pricing, negotiation and trade-in values. Save yourself from being railroaded by a greedy salesman by equipping yourself with these little known facts you never knew about buying a car.
5. Car-buying timing matters
No, it’s no myth! Timing is everything when it comes to car-buying. Seeking out or waiting for good sales and deep discounts can save you a lot of money on new cars for sale if you play your cards right. Schedule your car-buying around these times:
- Mondays: One of the most common mistakes car buyers make about strategizing their purchase is shopping on the weekend. The average American works through the week, leaving only the weekends for to-do list completion. But it’s not a genius idea to go at the end of a day on a busy Saturday; your best bet is to visit the dealer on a Monday. A 2015 TrueCar study found that car buyers saved an average of 8.1 percent off MSRP prices on Mondays.
- Memorial Day: Holidays are a great excuse to have a sale for retail companies. Though it’s popular belief that the springtime is one of the worst times to buy a car, Memorial Day may be the single exception during the season. Some dealers have better discounts than others, so be sure to do your research before showing up at the dealership.
- During October: October marks the month where dealers and manufacturers are trying to push older vehicles off the lots to make room for next year’s models.
- Black Friday: Dealers are not above diving into Black Friday deals! So while the masses bombard the malls and department stores, take a trip to the dealership to score serious deals on SUVs, sedans, crossovers, and more.
- During December: The holiday season is all about annual sales goals for manufacturers and dealers. Salesmen on the cusp of an annual bonus will be willing to negotiate lower to seal the deal with you.
4. Minimum trade-in values are padded by sale prices
One of the most alluring promises a dealership can offer is a classic trade-in ad that offers a minimum amount for your clunker. For example, a dealership may get car buyers to come in by offering $3,000 minimum for a trade-in vehicle. If you’re rolling up to the dealership in a 1997 Toyota Corolla (in decent shape, of course) feeling empowered because you’re about to get a sweet trade-in deal, don’t get too excited. Dealerships use minimum trade-in values to pad the prices of new cars on the lot and make negotiation next to impossible.
3. Dealers are masters of distraction
Count how many times your car salesman has to check with his manager. Count how many TV screens are in the dealership. Observe how loud the music is. There are plenty of distraction tactics dealers and dealerships employ to distract you from what they’re doing with the deal. Always remember, the car salesman is always trying to get the best deal for himself, not you. Stay one step ahead of his game by keeping your focus on your desired deal—no distractions.
2. There’s usually a catch
Hidden fees are the very reason why many car buyers go with third-party sellers over car dealerships. It’s a simple matter of fact that car dealers don’t want to and won’t publicize the many extra costs of buying a car. Processing fees and licensing fees can tack on hundreds of dollars to your final cost, leaving you with a pricier going-home price than you initially agreed on.
To avoid any last-minute surprises, ask your dealer to be upfront about extra costs. You need to be certain about your purchase, so if those hidden catch fees make or break the deal, you better know about them.
1. You can always check the vehicle’s history
Just because a lovely used car is sitting on a dealer’s lot doesn’t mean it’s completely faultless. Don’t make the mistake of having blind faith in your dealer and leaving them to reveal (or omit) the facts to you. Grab the VIN of your desired vehicle and run the vehicle history yourself.
Ending up with the car of your dreams is a long process, but it doesn’t have to be a nerve-wracking one. Keep these 5 things in mind the next time you visit the dealer and you’ll shop with more confidence.
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