Car shopping doesn’t have to break the bank and the more time you spend preparing for the purchase, the better you’ll fare when it’s time to sign on the dotted line. There is very little mystery left when it comes to the process of shopping for a buying a car. The consumer’s ignorance used to be an advantage for car dealerships all over. Not so anymore. With websites like Cars.com, buyers can develop a broad scope of knowledge about a specific vehicle before they ever step foot in a dealership.
The saying goes “knowledge is power.” The is an absolute truth when it comes to car shopping. So, do yourself a favor and start learning right now. Head to Cars.com and look up the specific make and model of the car you’re interested in buying. Learn as much as you can about it including the average price people pay for the vehicle at dealerships and in private sales. Depending on the features that you want in the vehicle like leather interior, power windows and locks, premium sound, and other features added to base models, you should be able to access a solid range of the vehicle you’re shopping for is worth. With that information, you can estimate your payments and have a thorough understanding of how various interest rates will impact your payment.
The next step is securing financing before ever stepping foot in a dealership or entering negotiations for a vehicle. Dealerships can oftentimes connect you with favorable financing terms. However, walking into a dealership with pre-approval in hand makes it clear what your car-buying budget should be, and gives you negotiating power. Obviously, the better your credit history the better terms you will get in financing. Sometimes it pays to use some cash on hand to pay down debt before car shopping, thereby increasing your credit score and getting a better interest rate on the life of your loan.
Once you get to the negotiating table, never take the first price the dealership throws out and don’t be ashamed or bashful about countering their offer. It’s a guarantee that their first number doesn’t represent their bottom dollar on the vehicle. Haggle with them until you’re confident you’re getting a good deal and make them work for the sale. A little education and a little bit of gumption is really all it take to make sure you get the best deal on your next car.