Many years ago when I was in my 20’s (ok, many, many years ago), I purchased my first car all by myself. I was a big girl. I didn’t need anyone to go with me. So one Saturday morning, I went to the dealership full of hope and happiness and self worth, and they broke me down. They kept me there all day. Back and forth and back and forth between the sales manager and the sales guy. I naively thought this was the way it was done; that they were really serious in trying to get me the best car for the best price. They were my friends, right? Finally a deal was reached and I left with my brand new car. Then Monday I received a call telling me that the dealership had made the dreaded “accounting error” and I had to give them a check for $500 or the deal was off. And I stupidly believed this was just an honest mistake. The salesman was so nice after all! He knew I was a single mom with barely two nickels to rub together that needed a reliable car to get myself to and from work and my child to school. This couldn’t possibly be some ploy that car dealerships use over and over again to get more money. HA! Lesson learned. And it was a good lesson to learn, because I have never, ever been taken advantage of again. I don’t think you can ever walk away from a car purchase thinking you got the absolute bottom dollar deal and that you didn’t leave anything left on the table. Today however, with this magical thing called the world wide web, you can get pretty darn close if you do all your research.
Since I recently purchased a new car, I wanted to share some sites I found to help in your car purchase. First, check with jdpower.com. This is a great site for comparing vehicles that you may be interested in. It also rates the vehicles by type or model. Another similar site is usnews for ratings and rankings. Also add to your research edmunds.com. Edmunds has lots of little gems. There is a forum section, where you can search by the specific make and model you are considering, and read posts on other buyers’ prices paid for the same vehicle. You will also see discussion threads in the forums on problems reported by owners of the vehicles. There is a great link on this site where you can check to see if the model you are considering is going to change body style in the next year. Edmunds can also give you a list by manufacturer of all incentives currently offered. Finally, Edmunds has what they refer to as TMV – true market value, which is what the price of the vehicle is going for in your area. Another great site for true cost of the vehicle is truecar.com. Truecar.com not only gives you the amount you should expect to pay, but has a great little graphic of how low and how high the same car sold for in your specific area in the last month.
So, with all that research behind you, you can request dealer quotes specifically from several dealers in your area. You can request quotes on Edmunds, or Kelley Blue Book, or direct from the dealer’s web page. In signing up for this service, they request your name, address, telephone number and email address. I would strongly suggest listing your cell phone number, right after you put it on silent. That way, the dealership is forced to communicate with you via email, and you get everything in writing. The added benefit is that the salespeople can’t put any pressure on you. Most all of the emails I received during this recent purchase all had the same lingo in all of them. “As a matter of fact, that exact model and color was delivered just a few hours ago by fleet”; “I won’t low ball you and then add on other charges when you get here”; “I will beat any quote you get by $100”. Don’t feel sorry for these salespeople, remember, they screwed me years ago. They are not your friends. Be strong. You are in control.
My final tip is this. Once you get to the dealership, the deal isn’t quite over yet. The finance department has another trick up their sleeves when you get there. Get your game face on people! They will try and sell you the extended warranty, dent repair, protective coating, the kitchen sink. Guess what? These people make commissions too. You may want an extended warranty but you need to decide that before you get there. You can shop around on line for extended warranties too! When I did my last car purchase, I remembered people posting in the Edmunds forums that they bought extended warranties from other dealerships in other states for half the cost. It’s a commission-based sale, just like the car. Most manufacturers will let you purchase the extended warranty before the original warranty is up. So if it is something you think you may want, research it and get the best price for it. Then when the finance department starts asking you personal questions that are completely unrelated to finance, cut them off! Shut them down. Don’t have them waste your time with their sales pitch. It’s all a game, and a game I want you to win! Winning!
If you have any other great websites for car buying information, tips, or any personal experiences, I would love for you to share with me in the comment section! Happy Hunting!