It's time. You found a day that you're free, made the arrangements, and taken that deep breath before you step out the door. But before you step out ask yourself one last time, are you ready to visit the used car dealership?
Buying any car, even a used car, is a big deal so it helps to go in prepared. Here are some things you should consider before you leave. First, have you thought about what you need? Corvettes are nice, but not if you have a child seat. Vans are great for carrying people but do you just drive yourself? Focusing on what car is right from you can save you a lot of needless running around behind a salesman who's eager to sell you anything.
Second, check and compare the MSRP
, invoice prices, NADA or KBB used car guides to get an idea of what numbers you can expect to see. Knowing the range of the vehicle you're interested in makes you more aware if the car your being shown is way over priced or if it's questionably under priced and you need to ask more questions. Also check competing dealer prices, bringing in a competitors price can put a salesman in the difficult place of trying to one up his competition.
Third, check your credit score and get pre-approved. Not only does it speed things up for yourself, it will give you a good idea of what you can afford and what your options are. If your credit score is good, you could be more aggressive when negotiating the financing on your car. If your credit score is bad, it may mean you need to re-evaluate your options or consider a bad credit auto loan. Knowing these things ahead of time can save you time and avoid potential embarrassment.
So now you're at the car lot and on to the next step. For starters, do not let the salesman play the shell game. Negotiate one point at a time, agree upon it, and move on to the next. We recommend starting with the price of the vehicle you are interested in. Don't get distracted or let the salesman mix and match deals with your trade in, as what can seem like a good deal for one item is often masking the problem with the rest of the deal. And remember, MSRP is for "Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price". They can suggest all they want but it doesn't mean you should pay it.
After you set the agreed upon price of new vehicle, it is time to talk trade in if you have one. Do you know the value of your trade in? If not a little prior research here can go a long way and is recommended. Also a quick clean up can go a long way towards getting a good price on a trade in. Taking your car in looking like it's been lived in won't fetch you top dollar, so toss out that trash in the backseat so you can show off the cars true value. There is a lot of money in used cars; getting a good trade in price can save you as much as a good haggle on your new purchase.
Finally make sure all the prices are as you agreed to them before you sign. Check you're financing numbers, does it look high? Banks often give car lots better rates than your average Joe, so if it looks to high it probably is. Financing can be just another way to milk you for more money on a car sale, see if they won't match your pre-approved banks rate. If they won't offer you the best deal, use a third party who can. And don't be afraid to get up and leave or be pressured into a sale, you are in control and with the proper knowledge and best practices you can use that control for your own profit. Happy shopping!