Buying a new car is a big step, but it does not have to be a daunting one. Here is how to research, locate, price and negotiate to buy your new car. Mobile technology makes these steps easier than ever, and it is now entirely possible to shop for a new car while you are in line at the supermarket or waiting to pick up your kids. These eight steps could save you thousands of dollars on a new car. They will also make the process quicker and stress-free. Let us begin.
⦁ Research Vehicles and Features
Not sure what car you want yet? The Edmunds app and website have just about all the information you need, including expert and owner reviews. Automakers’ sites are useful for seeing more photos and learning more about the features and options on cars. Once you have a short list, it is time to figure out how you will pay for the car.
⦁ Get Preapproved for a Loan
A preapproved car loan starts you on the right foot. You get an idea of how much you can afford, and you will have an interest rate that you can then compare to the dealership’s financing, which might actually have the lowest annual percentage rate. Look for a loan application on the mobile web pages of your bank. It is a good idea to do your own research on which lender works best for you. To begin the loan approval process, have at hand your employer and salary information and balances of other debt you may have. Make sure you will be ready to shop within about two weeks of seeking preapproval. This will reduce the number of “hard” inquiries to your credit history.
⦁ Plan Your Trade-In
You can skip this step if you do not have a trade-in. If you do, keep reading. It is important to get your trade-in value before you go to the dealership. This will help set your expectations for what the car is worth and gives you a reference point for any offers you will receive. The best way to get the value of your trade-in is to use app on a smartphone or tablet. Those devices make it easier to sit in the car and double-check whether you have options that can affect the car’s value — features such as heated seats or a sunroof. Be honest about the condition of your car. Most cars fall into the “clean” or “fair” category. Very few cars are “out- standing,” no matter how much their owners babied them.
When you are done appraising, you will see three figures. The trade-in value is what the dealer may offer
you — that is a figure to keep in mind when you are at the dealership. The private-party value is what you might expect to get if you sell the car yourself. Dealer retail is a little different: It is what you might expect to pay for the car if you were to buy it at a dealership.
There is an alternative to trading in a car or selling it yourself: Have used-car retailer CarMax appraise the car and make you an offer. The offer is good for seven days, at which point you can ask the dealership to beat that price or you can sell your car to CarMax.
⦁ Locate and Test-Drive the Car
By now, you have settled on a few car candidates. You should see them in person before making a decision. Hundreds of dealerships throughout the country list their car inventories on Edmunds, and in many cases, you can sort by colour, trim level and features.
This is a better way to shop than configuring a car at the automaker’s website and hoping you will find one with that set of options in the real world. All the listings you will find on Edmunds pages are real cars with a variety of options. Most will have a locked-in price that should be comparable to what others are paying. If you follow the steps below with Edmunds, a salesperson from the dealership will contact you to schedule a test drive. If you found the vehicle on another site, call the dealership’s internet sales department to request more information. In either case, keep these do’s and don’ts in mind:
⦁ Do verify that the car you want is still in stock. It might have been sold recently, and online inventories can take a while to catch up.
⦁ Do ask the sales- person if there are any dealer-installed options. Many new vehicles are sold with addons such as nitrogen in the tires, all-weather floor mats or theft protection packages. These can easily add $1,000 to the sale price.
⦁ Do not just show up at the dealer on a busy weekend or late at night. Waits may be long and you may not get the salesperson’s full attention.
⦁ Do schedule an appointment for a test drive. Early in the week and in the morning are good times. Having an appointment means the car will be waiting for you when you arrive.
⦁ Do not just drive around the block. Take the time to see how you and your family fit in the car and see how it handles on a variety of roads.
⦁ Do ask yourself the following questions: Are the controls easy to use? Is there enough
cargo space? Will a child seat fit? (Bring it with you and test it.)
⦁ Do not feel obligated to buy the car the same day. Feel free to take a night to think it over.
⦁ Check Sale Price and Warranties Once you have a target car, it is time to focus on getting a price. We
recommend using one of these two ways to get a price quote on a car:
⦁ Call, text or email the internet sales department of three dealer- ships that have the car you want. Ask each for the total selling price, including any additional accessories that may have already been installed on the car. The best price will be obvious. You also can take that quote and ask the other dealerships to beat it. If you plan on leasing, this is the way to go.
⦁ You can save time and trouble by using Edmunds to get a locked-in price that’s designed to be comparable to the average price that others are paying in your area. Make sure you ask the salesperson to email or text you a breakdown of the “out-the- door price,” with all the taxes and fees factored in. That lets you see the total amount you will be spending.
You also should ask for a preview of products the dealership plans to offer you after you buy a car — such as paint protection, an extended warranty and possibly a prepaid maintenance plan. Usually, you will not hear about these extras until much later in the shopping process, but we suggest you get some information now to relieve pressure later.
Here is how you do it: Call the dealership finance manager and ask about these products and services. They may be of value to you, but just know that the price is often negotiable and you do not have to buy them when you buy the car unless you intend to fold their price into the purchase contract.
⦁ Review the Deal and Dealer Financing
Now that you have a price quote for the car, your big question is probably whether it is competitive.
It is important to keep in mind that an average price paid is exactly that. Some people have paid more and others paid less. Some shoppers are only happy if they grind their way to a rock-bottom price. But for most shoppers, that usually isn’t worth the hassle and frustration. If your price quote is above the average, it is not necessarily reason to walk away from a deal. Here is why:
A car’s price is not the only factor that determines a good car deal. You also should look at the interest
rate, the loan term and the value of your trade-in, if that is part of your deal. There are even some intangibles, such as how the salesperson and the dealer- ship treat you and the time you save in the shopping process. Those are all factors in a good deal. In fact, at this point in the process, you may be able to im- prove parts of it.
In Step 2, you got preapproved for financing. Now that you are close to purchase, there’s a chance that
If you’re looking to buy a used car, you’re far from alone. Between private-party and dealership sales, nearly 40 million used cars ex-change hands each year. With so many choices, finding that one right car for you can be a challenge. So we’ve created a list of steps to help make finding and buying your perfect used car a breeze.
You can find good used cars in a variety of places, such as private-party sell- ers, new-car dealerships and used-car superstores.
Step 1: How Much Car Can You Afford?
A rule of thumb: If you’re taking out a loan to pay for your car, your car payment shouldn’t be more than 20 percent of your take-home pay. If you’re sticking to a tight budget, you may want to spend even less. Used cars will need a little extra attention from time to time: new tires, maintenance and the like.
And then there are the other ownership costs shoppers sometimes forget to account for, such as fuel and insurance. If the car you’re planning to buy is out of warranty, it might be a good idea to set aside a “just-in-case” fund to cover any unexpected repairs.
Step 2: Build a Target List of Used Cars
It’s no secret that the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry make for good used cars. But they might cost a few thousand more than a comparable Ford Fusion or Kia Optima, even though these are good cars, too. So if you’re looking to save money, consider more than one brand. We suggest making a list of three cars that meet your needs and fall within your budget.
If you are planning to buy a vehicle that is less than 5 years old, consider one that has certified pre-owned (CPO). CPO vehicles have long-term warranties that are backed by the carmakers, not just the dealership selling it to you. Franchised dealerships that sell that same brand new are the only ones who can sell a CPO car of the same brand..
Step 3: Check Prices
Prices are driven in part the Motoring head? on buying a used car… by where you’re shopping. You will find used cars in used-car sections of new-car dealerships, independent used-car lots, used-car retailers such as CarMax and websites where private-party sellers list their cars. Of the four, private-party cars will usually have the lowest selling price. CPO cars will usually cost the most, but for the reasons we’ve noted. To see what other people are paying for the models you have picked out, Edmunds offers a quick way to see the average price paid for the car in your area.
Step 4: Locate Used Cars for Sale in Your Area
To find exactly the car you want, you can filter your search by many factors including the miles on the car’s odometer, its price and features, and dealer’s distance from you. Use the websites for other used-car marketplaces mentioned to save time.
Step 5: Check the Vehicle History Report
Unless you are buying the car from a close friend or family member who can vouch for its history, plan to get a vehicle history report. This is an essential early step. If the car you’re looking at has a bad history re- port, the sooner you know the better.
One need to check for vehicle history reports, which can reveal vital information about the car, including whether the odometer has been rolled back or if it has a salvage title, which means it has been declared a total loss by the insurance company. You’ll use the car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) to get this information, and in some cases, all you need is the license plate number.
Step 6: Contact the Seller
Once you find a good prospective car, don’t run out to see it. Call the seller first. This is a good way to establish a relationship with the seller and verify the information about the car. You can ask private-party sellers why they’re parting with a car, or whether it has any mechanical problems. And if you’re buying from a dealership, a phone call (or text) is the best way to ensure the car is still in stock.
Sometimes the seller will mention something that wasn’t in the ad that might change your decision to buy the car. If you want to go deeper, our used car questionnaire is a good reminder of what to ask. Although many people are tempted to negotiate even before they have laid eyes on the car, it’s better to wait.
If things are going well, set up an appointment to test-drive the car. If possible, make it for daylight hours. That makes it easier to see the car’s condition.
Step 7: Test-Drive the Car
Test-driving a used car is the best way to know if this is the right car make and model for you. Here are some things to check:
⦁ Is it easy to get in and out of the car without stooping or banging your
⦁ Is there enough headroom, hiproom and legroom? Remember to see how these feel in the backseat, too.
⦁ Is the driving position comfortable? Do you sit too low, too high or just right in the car? Can you tilt or telescope the steering wheel for a better fit?
⦁ Are the seats comfortable? Are they easily adjustable? Is there a lumbar support adjustment for the driver? How about the front-seat passenger?
⦁ Do you see a lit “check engine” light? If so, get that problem checked out before buying.
⦁ How is the visibility? Check the rear-view mirror and the side mirrors. Look for potential blind spots.
⦁ Use your nose. Do you smell gas, burning oil, or anything amiss?
⦁ Check out the tires. How old are they? Is there enough tread left?
⦁ How are the brakes? Are they doing the job of stopping the car? Do they squeak?
⦁ Pop the hood.
You don’t have to know a lot about cars to see if something looks wrong. If something is leaking, steaming or covered in oil, it’s time to ask questions.
⦁ Does the air-conditioning blow cold? Do headlights, brake lights and turn indicators work? Test them to be sure.
After the test drive, ask the owner or dealer if you can see the service records. These will show you if the car has had the scheduled maintenance performed on time.
Step 8: Have the Car Inspected
If you like the car, consider having it inspected by a mechanic before you buy it. A pre-purchase inspection can alert you to problems you may not find yourself. It’s a smart investment.
A private-party seller will probably allow you to do this without much resist- ance. Most dealerships will let you borrow a car to take to be inspected by an outside mechanic.
Step 9: Negotiate a Good Deal
Does the idea of “talking numbers” fill you with dread? It shouldn’t. Negotiating doesn’t have to be a drawn-out, traumatic experience. If you are reasonable and have a plan, chances are you can make a deal pretty quickly and easily:
⦁ Decide ahead of time how much you’re willing to spend to get the car. But don’t start with this number in your discussion.
⦁ Make an opening offer that is lower than your maximum price.
⦁ If you and the seller arrive at a price that sounds good to you and is near the average price paid, you’re probably in good shape.
Step 10: Get the Paperwork Done
If you are at a dealership, you’ll sign the contract in the finance and insurance office. There, you will likely be offered additional items, such as a warranty, anti-theft devices, prepaid service plans or fabric protection.
Some people want the peace of mind that comes with extended warranties, so this is something you might want to consider (unless the car is still under the manufacturer’s warranty).
Review the dealership sales contract thoroughly. In most states, it lists the cost of the vehicle, a documentation fee, possibly a small charge for a smog certificate, sales tax and license fees.
If you are buying a car from an individual owner, make sure the seller properly transfers the title and registration to you. It’s important to close the deal correctly to avoid after-sale hassles. Before money changes hands, ask for the title (which is sometimes called the pink slip) and have the seller sign it over to you.Whether you buy from a dealer or a private party, make sure you have insurance for the car before you drive it away. Once you’ve done the paperwork, it’s time to celebrate your new purchase.