Car shopping can be fun until the car salesman shows up. If you don’t want to be pressured into buying what he or she wants you to buy, here are 5 tips to avoid being taken advantage of by an overzealous car salesperson.
Know What You Want Before You Step Foot On The Lot
This is the hardest thing for most people – know what you want before you step foot on the lot. Know the car you want, the price you’re willing to pay, the features that are important to you, and your time frame for buying.
For example, if you know you want a 2-seater roadster, walk onto the lot with a plan, right down to the color.
If you’re looking for a family car, it’s not enough to know you need a family car. What brand? What model? You should be able to walk up to the dealer’s salesperson and say, “I want a Toyota Sienna that’s at least a year old, blue, with no more than 50,000 miles on it and no more than $20,000.”
Does this sound difficult to you? It’s a lot easier to pull off than it sounds. Online resources, like Kelly Blue Book, make it easy to research vehicles. You can also spend some time on car forums, engaging the “car guys” for advice on what to buy.
Check vehicle Technical Service Bulletins for any known service issues or manufacturing defects in the year, make, and model of vehicle you’re thinking of buying. Make a list of everything you want, do your homework, and you’ll be able to walk onto the lot and out of there without being talked into anything.
Make a Down Payment
It’s almost always a good idea to make a down payment on a vehicle. Why? Because then you’re not driving off the lot in a vehicle that depreciates faster than you can pay down the loan. Sometimes, this happens when the vehicle is a new model and you’re qualifying for a special 0 percent introductory offer.
What many car dealers won’t tell you is that the vehicle “instantly” depreciates once you drive it off the lot. Now your loan is more than what the vehicle is worth. You can’t sell it. You can’t trade it in without more money out of pocket, and you can’t take out a loan against it if you need to make emergency repairs.
Some forms of finance, like the ones offered by Car Title Loans in San Jose, are some of the most common ways to raise money for emergency repairs to a vehicle (and they all eventually need to be repaired). But, you need equity in the vehicle before you qualify for a loan. Having equity means making a down payment when you first purchase the vehicle. Do it. You won’t regret it.
Hear Out The Salesperson, But Don’t Answer His Questions Right Away
Listen to what the salesperson has to say about sales and special offers, but don’t get wrapped up in his web of sales questions that inevitably lead you to buying a vehicle. Do ask about discounts, trade-ins (once you’ve decided on a price for the vehicle), and any special financing options.
Test Drive The Vehicle
Test driving is still a big part of the car-buying process. You don’t want to drive off the lot without test driving the vehicle. Bring a friend or family member with you. Try out all of the seats, make sure the radio works, A/C works, and everything else you plan on using in the car.
Bring Your Own Financing
Don’t take the dealer’s financing. Seriously. This is a lesson a lot of newbies learn the hard way. Dealers cut deals with local (and sometimes not local) lenders. What they get out of the deal is a cut of the interest if you borrow through them.
Unless the loan is a preferred zero-percent rate, assume the dealer is getting a cut. Sometimes, it’s 2 percent. Sometimes, it’s more. You can go directly to your own lender and save yourself some money.
Roy Jameson is a self-confessed auto addict and father of four. When he has the time, he likes to write about car ownership to help those who are just starting out with driving. He enjoys sharing his ideas online.