Let’s face it, most of us dread shopping for a new car. Unfortunately, the time comes when we’re forced to face our fears and dive on it. This is one of those experiences that you can either come out of with a great experience and have saved thousands of dollars or feel absolutely horrible and have spent thousands more than you wanted to. New car buying and negotiating is one of my favorite past times, so let’s get to it and I’ll show you my tricks.
Remember, you’ll always save the most money by buying a used car (think one-three years old) over a new. Having said that, some just love the new car smell, so that’s why we try to provide a great way to save when purchasing those new cars.
Tis the Season
If you have ever heard the saying “There is a season for everything,” then you will understand when I say that this is the season for car buying. More specifically the middle of August through middle of September. This is your BEST window of time to purchase a new vehicle during the year. It may seem like odd timing but there is some logic to the madness. The new cars for the following year come out to dealerships during this time.
Right now dealerships are doing everything in their power to dump this year’s model. This means more savings for you right off the bat because they have already lowered the prices to move the cars. The average savings for the current year model is anywhere from $1500 – $5000! Beware though, that they will also do whatever they can to push the newest model on you for many more thousands of dollars. This is NEVER a good deal unless there has been a major overhaul to the vehicle between years, which is rarely the case. The most common changes are exterior and interior color options and possibly a slight revamping of the exterior body.
After I have come to the decision to purchase a new car, I then must decide WHICH car I’m looking at. What type of car person ARE you? I, personally, am a smaller SUV fan. I had a Toyota Rav4 for many years and loved it and currently own a Kia Soul! in Alien Green, which is by far my favorite car to date.
After I’ve determined my type, I go straight to Consumer Reports and start looking for comparison reports on the current year models. I look at the recommended cars and then compare them to each other, specifically for mileage per gallon, maintenance issues, size and comfort. After that, I am looking at the minute details such as extra options.
One of the biggest bonuses to Consumer Reports is that for each vehicle I am looking at, I can check local dealer pricing and it gives me the average going price. This is great information for me to have and a great jumping off point.
Once I have narrowed the makes and models down to 5 cars or less, I then go to test drive the cars at dealerships. The big take home point is that I am NOT purchasing anything on this visit, but simply test driving to narrow down my choices. This is the turning point for me because I have physically seen and felt the vehicle and narrowed it down to 1 or 2 choices.
Since I live in the capital city of my state, the prices here are usually higher than other smaller cities not too far away. Therefore, I check the local prices and then widen my net to see what other dealerships are offering within my state.
When I purchased the Honda Fit that I owned for a short period of time (and loved until somebody decided to hit me at high speeds while I was stopped in morning traffic and totaled it), I got it for $5800 less than I would have in my home city. I was able to do this by finding it at a smaller dealership about 60 miles away. They also gave me more money for my trade it. For me, the 1 hour drive was well worth the money saved.
When I purchased my Kia Soul, I found the one that I wanted about 3 hours away. I happened to get pretty lucky because I had test driven at a local dealership that wanted my business so badly that they sent one of their guys down to the other dealership to get the car for me.
They sold it to me for the same exact price that I had seen online, as I had screenshotted the page and emailed it to the sales rep here. Come to find out when they brought it back, that it had more bells and whistles than any of us knew about. So now I have remote start, trunk nets, cargo holders and cool trim package that makes my car look “angry” so hopefully people will stop hitting me in stopped traffic, and didn’t even have to pay extra for it. Since it was the current year model (saved over $4000) and in a smaller city (saved almost $4000), I saved close to $8000!
Can’t afford to buy a new car? Here are some tips to score the best deal when negotiating on Craigslist!
When it comes to negotiation, things are much simpler now. My philosophy is simple, in that I have done a ton of research on the front end and I know what the pricing should be for my area. I will always try to knock down the pricing a couple of thousand and see what they come back with, but in all reality I almost always get exactly what I want. Pitting different dealerships against each other is the way to go about it. I just put out there what I intend to pay and see who comes back to me with what I want. The key here is patience. Do everything online that you can, including all communications with the sales reps, and don’t come into the dealership until you’ve settled on a deal. Then all you have to do is fill out the paperwork that you have already agreed upon and get the keys. Done and done!
Have you purchased a car during this golden window before? If so, what was your experience and how much did you save?
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