Car Buying Tips: Be Smart, Negotiate Well and Find a Fair Deal

Having a new car is a great feeling.  Whether its brand new or just new to you, a reliable vehicle that can handle what you need it to is peace of mind.  That being said, not much more is stressful than everything that happens between deciding to buy and being handed the keys.  Guest Writer Scotty Reiss of SheBuysCars offers some great advice to help you feel more confident in your purchase. Be sure to check out her site for more information and car reviews written with a woman in mind.

Car Buying Tips: Be Smart, Negotiate Well and Find a Fair Deal

By: Scotty Reiss

Most women prefer a root canal to buying a new car. We didn’t make that upJ.D.Power, the auto industry’s leading research outlet, discovered this a few years ago.
But it rings true. Buying a car can mean learning a lot about an unknown subject, complicated research, trusting someone you don’t know with a huge amount of money, and potentially making a big mistake.
Maybe the biggest mistake women make is taking a man with them to a car dealership, or entrusting a man to do the job for her. But most men don’t know any more about buying a car than you do, and they hate the process just as much. With a little guidance and some research, you can command the search, negotiate and get a fair deal on your next car. Here’s how:
Best Day to Shop For a Car: Yes, there is such a thing. In fact, experts say that December 31st is the best day of the year to buy a car; dealers want to make their full year numbers and are motivated. Dealers are also more motivated at the end of any month, and more likely to negotiate in your favor at the end of the day. Also keep in mind model year: new models roll into showrooms in the fall, so by the end of the calendar year and into the new year, any of “last year’s” models still on the lot have dealers motivated to move them.
Best Place to Shop For a Car: the Car Show. Don’t think of this gem of a shopping mall as boys-only turf. A car show allows you to see all the cars in your category without driving from dealer to dealer, doing the pre-shop chat with salesmen, and then fielding phone calls for weeks afterward. It’s a no-to-low pressure way to look at all the cars you want, learn a bit about each and then schedule test drives. It’s well worth the $10 admission.
How to Research: Where to start? There are a lot of sources of information out there, so start with the ones that are most meaningful to you: Ask your Facebook friends about which cars and which dealers they like, bookmark sites that discuss cars in terms you identify with. Ignore sites, reviews or magazines that talk about cars in ways that don’t ring true with you. Download apps on your phone to help with the process and turn time in line at the pharmacy or Starbucks into car shopping time. Our favorites include and


Know Your Numbers: Know what you can afford, your credit score, what your trade-in is worth, lease versus purchase options and your financing options, and do all this before your first visit to a car dealer. Being unprepared may be the biggest mistake consumers make: If you don’t know what type of loan you qualify for (based on your credit score) you may sign a loan that costs much more each month than it should. A lease can be a good deal for some consumers, but not for everyone; if you know before hand which group you’re in, you’re less likely to fall for a sweet deal that leaves you with nothing (or worse, in debt!) at the end. Likewise, if you know what loan rate your bank will give you and what your trade in is worth, you’re less likely to succumb to a seemingly amazing deal on the car of your dreams that shorts you on trade-in and charges you more in interest. And don’t be discouraged if you have less than stellar credit; there are solutions for that, too.
Shop Different Dealers: Visit a Chevrolet dealer several towns away and ask not only what price they’ll offer on the Traverse, but also, how much they’ll give you on your trade in and what interest rate they’ll give you. After the purchase you can always visit the dealer closest to you for service; you don’t need to take the car to the dealership where you bought it.
Take the Test Drive on Your Terms, Not Theirs: Take the sales rep on a tour of your life, not the cute, scenic route he has in mind: drive the to your house and park the car in your drive way, make sure it fits in your garage, drive it to work or school, put it through the paces of your life. This way you can be sure that you’ll love it just as much after you get it home.
How to Negotiate: Pay attention here, because no one else will tell you thisDon’t fall for the advertised price; that is a lure to get you into the dealer and often not available on the car you really want. Ask three times if the dealer can offer a better finance rate, price on the car and value for your trade in; studies have shown that each time you ask you get closer to what you want. Ask to talk to the sales or general manager when you’re ready to negotiate, since most sales reps don’t have that authority. Don’t ever: Tell the sales rep what your budget is or what you want to pay; don’t get emotional about a car or the deal; don’t sign paperwork without reviewing it carefully (take it home overnight if you need to), and never, ever sign anything except the final sale documents that you’ve already reviewed.
No Haggle Buying: Ahhh… yes, it exists, but like any story, it has two sides. You can buy a car through Costco, an experience many consumers love because Costco negotiates the price and creates a transparent process; no haggle deals are also the routine at CarMax, and if you work with a car buying agent or expert advisor, who will research, advise and negotiate for you, you can save money and stress. But not all no-haggle deals are created equal; protect yourself by knowing the market value of the car you want, the value of your trade-in and the interest rate you should pay.
Now, go shopping, use your power and get a car and a deal you will love.
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