What are Some Tips for Successful Car Shopping?

Some people have a hard time car shopping. Unfortunately, the person who shops without knowledge may end up in pressured sales negotiations, or in getting something they don’t want, that costs more than budgeted. It cannot be stressed enough that people should never walk onto a used or new car lot without having a good sense of exactly what they want and what they’re willing to pay to get it. Preparation and knowledge are key to driving away in a car that fits needs almost perfectly.

The preparation aspect is vital. People should start car shopping on the Internet first. This is one of the best ways to compare either new or used cars. Some things to look for include car reviews, reliability, crash and safety ratings, fuel economy, and of course value. It’s a good idea to make lists of the cars that are suitable and narrow that list down to about three cars, unless a person only wants one special type of car. However, having more than one auto to choose from can make people more flexible and give them more options as they shop.

Once a car or cars are decided upon, look at pricing. For used cars, use price guides like the Kelley Blue Book ®, which can be freely accessed online. This gives shoppers a sense of high-end and low-end prices for each model. When car shopping at dealerships, people can expect to pay about mid-range in Blue Book price for used cars, but should deduct more in price if mileage is higher than average. Remember that value is different than price because price tends to be highly flexible on a dealer’s lot. There is almost always room to go lower, but sometimes price gets inflated elsewhere, like through charging fees or extra interest on loans

Typically, financing a car directly through the dealership is more expensive. Most people should assume this and shop for loans first, so they can avoid higher fees and know exactly how much they can spend. On rare occasions, dealers will really have the best deal on the loan, like one that is interest free. Ask if any fees apply to the loan, and if these are in excess, shop elsewhere.

One of the most challenging aspects of car shopping can be the hard sell dealer, and car dealers are generally not known for soft sales techniques. Still, people should brave this and test-drive any car they’ve decided they might want. After a test drive, most car salespeople want to “sell” the car immediately. Don’t express any enthusiasm for this. Instead, ask for the salesperson’s card and let him know you will contact him if interested.

After having a chance to examine the two or three cars that are of interest, if they’re new, check around to other dealers and get a price quote for them. Used car pricing should be compared against Blue Book®. Consider using the dealer with the best quote, and be sure to get the name of the person who issued that quote. If possible ask for a fax or email of the price, and remember the quote is almost always high.

This is when negotiation should occur in car shopping, after a person has determined where to get the best value, and decided on the car they like most. It should begin by quoting a price slightly under bluebook value. This gives the salesperson something to work with and he or she is likely to return with a price that is higher. This is usually not the lowest price, so inch up the offer slightly, and try again.

This should get a fairly good second offer, and usually this offer will represent the lowest one. If the second offer is fair and reasonable according to research, it may be a good idea to take it. On the other hand, if the price is still too high, consider going elsewhere to shop for the same or a similar car.

It can take thought and preparation to go car shopping. Yet shopping is made easier by being able to search on the Internet and identify which cars and prices are most desirable. Though it can be difficult to endure high-pressure sales tactics, provided people have pre-shopped for their car, they’re likely to find the process much easier.


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