Let’s face it. When it comes to buying a car, most of us are quite naive with that first experience. In fact, used car salesman are thrilled when a newbie car buyer steps onto the lot, excited to get his or her hands on the steering wheel of that first car. If you’ve ever been “taken” by a shyster car dealer or if you’re a first-time car buyer a little wary of dealing with a dealer, take note. There are a few tactics you can employ to make sure that you get the most bang for your buck.
Step 1: Get preapproved for a car loan. Don’t step foot onto a car lot – even if you’re just “window shopping” – before you’re approved for a bank loan. A car dealer knows that if you fall in love with a car right then and there, he can target your emotional attachment to the car and could, quite possibly, use one of his high-interest, “we’ll approve a loan for just about anyone” lenders. Knowing how much car you can afford will keep you focused in the right direction so that you get a car payment you can afford.
Step 2: Don’t reveal your car budget. That’s right. Keep it to yourself. The dance of the sale relies on the car salesman getting as much information as he possible can so that he can line his pockets with as much money as possible. Once he knows your budget, he will steer you toward a car that will give him the most commission he can possibly get.
Step 3: Buy only the features you need. The extra bells and whistles seem tempting when you’re experiencing the “high” of the sale, but keep your senses. You can easily rack up thousands of extra dollars in non-essentials. Add too many extras, and you’ll feel the extra pinch in your wallet with each car payment.
Step 4: Sport a poker face. Get too excited about a particular car, and the salesman will hone in and run with it. They know that people purchase vehicles for emotional reasons, so any salesman worth his weight will use your enthusiasm as an open window to close the sale.
Step 5: Don’t sign on the dotted line until your mechanic checks out the car. There are a lot of tricks that dishonest automobile dealers use to get vehicles to run just long enough to make the sale and get past the given 30-day warranty. For instance, if the transmission is faulty, adding a little sawdust will keep it going for awhile. Be sure to take the car to your mechanic – not someone recommended to the dealer – to get an honest assessment of the vehicle before you buy it.
Step 6: You don’t necessarily need a warranty. It’s possible that the car still has a warranty in effect and most dealerships offer an automatic 30-day warranty. Don’t buy a warranty just because it is offered. You’ll probably spend more for it than you will in repairs. Instead, put a few hundred dollars aside in a savings account for emergency car repairs. That way, you’ll be prepared and won’t spend money for a warranty you may never use.