Over the last decade, the car shopping experience for consumers has evolved significantly, especially in the U.S. Consumers are increasingly educating themselves in advance to avoid falling prey to sales tactics at the dealership. Here are some invaluable car shopping tips that can help you steer clear of common tricks employed by car salesmen. Pay close attention – our advice might just save you a significant amount of money.
1. Conduct Thorough Research When Car Shopping
Doing your homework might not sound appealing, but the potential savings outweigh any reluctance. Don’t solely rely on car salesmen for advice on the best car for your needs—remember, they are salesmen, not mechanics. Instead, invest time in conducting your research.
The Internet offers a plethora of websites that can assist you in determining the ideal make and model for you. They allow you to compare safety performance, gas consumption, and overall costs. Knowing your preferred model before stepping onto the lot can prevent you from being persuaded into buying the wrong vehicle.
2. Call Ahead for Availability
Ever experienced arriving at a car lot for a specific model only to be told it’s no longer available? You’ve likely been a victim of the “bait and switch” tactic commonly used. Dealerships might advertise attractive prices for certain cars to lure customers, then redirect them to other models by claiming the initial inventory is no longer available. Avoid falling into this trap by calling in advance to confirm the model’s availability.
3. Secure Pre-Approval for Your Loan
Once you’ve identified the car you desire, you’ll also know the loan amount needed to finance it. Before setting foot on a car lot, visit your bank to get pre-approved for a car loan. This puts you in a strong position and can prevent you from falling into a high-interest auto loan trap.
Getting pre-approved also guards against being informed of a higher-than-expected interest rate a few days after initially being told you’re approved for financing. Particularly, this precaution saves you from potential financial surprises after you’ve driven your new car home pending financing completion.
4. Focus on Total Cost of Ownership, Not Just Lowering Monthly Car Payments
Resist the temptation to solely focus on lowering your monthly auto loan payment. There are other costs associated with owning and operating a vehicle. There is gas, car insurance, vehicle inspection fees, vehicle registration fees, property taxes (in some states) and the costs to repair and maintain the vehicle once its outside the manufacturer’s warranty. To help with repair and maintenance, there is Openbay+.
Openbay+ is an online platform and subscription service that connects car owners with a wide network of vetted and reputable auto repair shops that deliver quality service. Openbay+ does all the heavy lifting upfront for car owners. It simplifies the process of finding reliable repair services, provides upfront and competitive pricing, offers discounts on service, and provides an online scheduling option to book a service appointment.
5. Avoid Desperation: Start Early
Car dealers can detect desperation and use it to their advantage. If they sense your options are limited, you might end up in a deal that doesn’t suit you. If you foresee a new car purchase in the near future, start exploring options now.
Having a functional vehicle empowers you to walk away from a negotiation that doesn’t favor you. Knowing this, salesmen may be more willing to negotiate. Taking time to contemplate the deal ensures you’re making a well-informed decision. However, always secure the offer in writing before leaving, or consider taking your business elsewhere if they’re unwilling to provide written confirmation.
Final Car Shopping Advice: Be Informed
Purchasing a car should never be an impulsive decision. Conduct thorough research, know your preferences, and establish a budget in advance. Equipping yourself with this knowledge will shield you from the potentially costly tricks often employed by car dealerships.
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