Car Buying Process
The car buying process has dramatically changed over the years. The average car buyer spends weeks and possibly months researching vehicles to find the right color, make/model and equipment; however, over the past 10 years, the number of dealerships a car buyer actually visits has decreased from four and a half dealerships to just over one. Therefore, car buyers will now travel farther to secure that great deal. The internet allows car buyers to search from the comfort of their own homes without pesky sales people hounding them. Car buyers can read about safety ratings, dealerships reviews, and most importantly what others in different locations are paying for the vehicle they want.
Tips for Finding the Right Car
- Shop online before entering the dealership. Shopping online might also save you thousands of dollars. Dealers usually quote a better price on the internet simply because they are competing with other dealers in a 300 mile radius. If they put too high of a price on the car no one will be interested in it, so by knowing the price of the vehicle before you arrive on the lot and being pre-approved, you will eliminate paying too much for the car as well as most of the back and forth between you and the dealership. Also, by knowing the rate you qualify for and the price of the vehicle before you get to the dealership, you already know it fits into your budget.
- Research several makes and models. Just because your dad drove a Ford doesn’t mean that a Ford is the right make for you. With all the technological advances in automobiles, most cars are made equally. The deciding factor is your preferences as far as style, comfort and available options. By widening your search and researching dealerships, you will be able to find the perfect vehicle.
Financing and Insurance
- Get pre-approved before shopping for a vehicle. Pre-approval will eliminate many issues like paying too much interest and buying a vehicle out of your budget. You will be armed with the knowledge of knowing what car you can buy and will save thousands in the meantime.
- Don’t worry about longer finance terms. The finance term of 72 months/6 years has become the industry standard since cars are being made so much better than before and are running a lot longer. It is not uncommon to see vehicles with over 200,000 miles that are still in great shape. If you take care of your vehicle with recommended schedule maintenance, this will prolong the life of your vehicle. Keep in mind they still have moving parts so things do break, but that’s why looking into a warranty is always a good idea. Protect your credit as well as your vehicle.
- Don’t be too quick to turn down mechanical insurance (warranty). Cars are not as easy to work on as they once were due to computers and all of the specialty equipment needed to diagnose and fix today’s vehicles. With labor rates ranging from $85 to $105 an hour, it does not take long to rack up a $1,000+ bill. Not to mention, the majority of repossessions come from mechanical failure and owners not having the money to fix the vehicle and make their monthly payments. Warranties can also be negotiated just like the purchase of your vehicle.
- GAP insurance is a must. Unless you are able to put down a decent-sized down payment or own a nice vehicle to trade, you will owe more on your vehicle than what it is worth. GAP stands for Guaranteed Asset Protection, and it makes up the difference between what you owe on your car loan and what it is actually worth. For example, you owe $18,000 on your vehicle loan and you get into an accident that makes your vehicle a total loss. Your insurance company calls and says your car is worth $14,500 which would leave a “GAP” of $3,500. Without GAP insurance, you would have to pay this amount plus your $500 deductible to satisfy this loan. However, with GAP you send in the claim and the difference is taken care of for you. You will not have to pay for a car you can’t drive making it a lot easier to get into another vehicle that fits your budget.
Dealership Dos and Don’ts
- Buy from a reputable dealership. We have all heard stories about someone who bought a car from XYZ dealership and after driving off the lot had problems with the vehicle they purchased. By buying from a dealer that has great customer service ratings and reputation, they will be more likely to take care of you after the sale if a problem does arise.
- Don’t fall into the “you have to buy right now or the deal is off the table” sales tactic. This tactic pressures you into making a rash decision and may put you into a financial crunch. If it is a reputable dealer, they can sell the car tomorrow for what they can sell it for today. The only exception to this rule is at month-end. New car manufacturers put special incentives on new cars to help move them off the lot, and these incentives can and do change from month to month. So, if you are shopping on the last day of the month, the deal can change the next day if the incentives change, but it might be a better deal.
- Buy a car at the end of the month. Dealers are scrambling to hit goals and are more willing to take a smaller amount for a vehicle to reach those goals. Also, if you are shopping closer to closing time, you may get a deal as the dealer wants to go home to their family and doesn’t want to take the time to haggle the price. Do be respectful, though, of the dealer’s time if you are not ready to drive the vehicle home. Go in and test drive earlier in the day.
- You don’t have to service your vehicle at the dealership where you bought it. While having your vehicle serviced at the dealership where you bought it helps build a relationship with that dealership for your next purchase, it’s not necessary. If you bought your vehicle at a dealership 300 miles away from your home city, it’s more than likely not worth the time and gas to have it serviced there. Your local dealership is more than equipped to service your car.
After performing research and knowing the price of the vehicle you want at the rate at which you qualify for based on pre-approval, you put the power in your hands and not the dealerships’. Car buying can be stressful but taking the aforementioned tips into consideration should lessen the strain. We are also here to help you with any of your auto financing needs. For more information, click here or call us at (402) 334-7000 option 0.