10 Tips on how to shop for a car the smart way

Purchasing a car is a highly emotional experience for most people. You think about a couple car brands that you like, you go to a car lot, test drive a few and then the trouble begins. You fall in love with a car. You want it. All you car about is getting that car. All your logic goes out the window and love takes over. Don’t be a sucker. Here are some tips when buying a new car:

1. Don’t bring your checkbook. Go to look and test drive only. Do not go with your checkbook. You run the risk of doing an impulse purchase. Be logical and emotionless. Test drive and evaluate the handling and responsiveness of the car you are interested in. And then walk away.

2. Read reviews of the model(s) you like. Search the internet for reviews on the car or cars you like the best. YouTube will have comparison tests. You can search Google and read lots of articles on your choice. You’ll learn what experts think about your car.
You’ll also learn what the comparable models are. You might learn of something that is similar that is better. Plus, it is really fun to read about cars when you know you’re going to get one soon!

3. Go to the manufacturer’s website. Search for local dealership websites. Go to those websites and contact internet sales to see if there are any special deals.

4. Ask your local dealership what their best deal over invoice is. You want to determine what dealer invoice is and then not pay much more than that. $1000 over dealer invoice? Pretty good. Some dealerships want thousands over dealer invoice.

5. Order the car you want from the dealership. You will save thousands of dollars if you custom build a car. Usually the dealer lot is packed with fully loaded cars. All the options add up. If you’re in Southern California do you really need that $1500 cold weather package with heated seats? The dealer will add all sorts of things to get that price up up up! If you look at the manufacturer’s website, you can usually build a car that you want and go from there. Take your “custom” list of specifications to the dealership and ask them what that will cost. How much over dealer invoice is their mark up? When you order a car, you might have to wait one or two months tops for your car to come in. Don’t sweat it. The thousands of dollars you save by waiting will make it all worth the wait.

6. Manual versus automatic transmission. Those that know how to drive a stick shift seem to be a dying breed. The majority of new cars on the lot are automatic. If you know how to drive a stick, you will save yourself anywhere from $1000 to $3000 by selecting a car with a manual transmission. Automatics cost way more than manual.

7. Lot buyer versus internet shopper. The dealerships know that the person that buys off the lot is buying with pure emotion. They want it and they want it now. Don’t fall into this sucker category. You’ll pay the most.

8. Lease versus buy. It’s usually cheaper to get into a lease than to buy a car. But, at the end of the lease you have nothing to trade in. You have to start all over. Leases are for those that want to drive a new car every 3 years. If you want the most from your money in the long run, you buy. Take advantage of dealer offers during the recession where they will have 0% financing or an extremely low interest rate.

9. Negotiate the sales price, not the payment per month. First negotiate on the price of the car. Then, start looking into your payments. Don’t walk into the dealership and say “I can afford $400 per month.” They can get you into a lease or finance for $400 a month…. For 7 years! There are all kinds of free online loan calculators. You can do this math yourself and find out what you can reasonably afford. Don’t even look at $50,000 cars if you can only afford one that costs $30,000.

10. Take time to think. Don’t buy that car you love the same day you test drive it. Give yourself a few days to think it over. Check out similar models. Read reviews. Even if you have no car right now, it is best not to rush into a car. Rent one for a few weeks while you are making your decision.

Good luck on your car purchase. Patience certainly is a good virtue to have when looking for a car. Do your homework and you can save thousands of dollars. Once you get that car home, remove the dealer license plate frame and put your own custom frame on your car. Don’t give the dealership free advertising.

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