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Visiting a Car Dealership – 5 Tips

For many, visiting a car dealership, either new or used, is something they’d rather avoid altogether. It ranks right up there with going to the dentist, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re shopping for a new or used car and your shopping takes you to the dealership, take note of these five tips, from experienced buyers and professionals alike, to ease the stress and get a good deal.

Stick to Your Budget

This is really the most important part of your car-buying decision, and you should do this well in advance of shopping make and model. Even if you can pay cash for your new car, your financial obligations are going to last for years, perhaps a decade. Set a budget that you are comfortable with, including car payments, car insurance premiums, refueling costs, and regular maintenance. Then, when shopping, stick to your budget to avert future financial pain.

Educate Yourself

Before you go shopping, either new or used, do your research. If you don’t know what model you’re looking for, then looking at specifications across the board may help you to narrow it down. Once you get to the dealership, instead of looking at all their models, you can narrow it down to one or two. Check the prices on various trim levels to see what value they offer and what you need, and don’t get drawn into spending “just this much more” for a feature you don’t really care about.

Price, Not Payments

When shopping for a car, don’t shop payments. Instead, shop overall price, including any rebates or special deals. A salesperson can easily say the “car payment” is just $300, but it’s likely over a longer term. You’ll just end up paying more in interest. Perhaps a lesser-priced car or higher down payment will help get that payment down instead of a longer term.

Let it Go

If you have an existing car, you may be tempted to trade it in towards the new one, but you may be better off selling it privately. The dealer may say they’ll give you $500 for your trade-in, but you might be able to get $1,500 or more selling privately. If you ask the dealer for that price, they’ll likely give it to you but tack it back on somewhere else in the deal, and you’ll end up right where you started. When considering any deal, don’t get stuck on one number, but consider the whole package.

Timing is Everything

You’re most likely to get a better deal if you plan your visit to the dealership well. Usually, weekdays are better than weekends, because there are fewer shoppers. The end of the month is a good time, since that’s when sales associates are usually trying to make those last few sales to meet quotas. The best time is when the new models come out, and the old models are yesterday’s news. Patience pays off!

Buying a new or used car doesn’t have to be a headache, and the research tools that we have today can make your visit to the dealership far easier than it used to be. These tips can save you time and stress, not to mention let you keep a little more of your hard-earned money.

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4 Responses

  1. John Mahoney says:

    I liked when you talked about educating yourself before you go to a car dealership to buy. It makes sense that doing this can help you know what is available and what type of car you would like. I can see how anyone looking into this would want to make sure they consult with several companies and compare their rates in order to get the best deal for the best quality.

  2. Ridley Fitzgerald says:

    Thanks for the great tips for shopping at a dealership. I like how you pointed out to look at the overall price, not the monthly payments. When I buy my new car, I don’t want to be paying it off for decades!

  3. Scott Adams says:

    I’m glad that you talked about making a decision based on overall price rather than how much your monthly payment would be. I have been looking for a new car, and I wasn’t sure how to decide on one. I can see how it would be nice to chose based on the total price, that way I won’t be temped to pay more in interest over time.

  4. Julie says:

    Some brilliant tips here, it always best to go prepared, thanks for the article.

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