First Time Car Buyer Help
If you have gotten lucky so far in life and have not had to experience the dreaded car salesman, then kudos to you! Though, every dog has its day, and we all have to go car shopping.
If you are looking for some advice to make the car buying process a little easier, you have come to the right place.
We've all seen the sleazy car salesman commercials. With the wavy arm inflatable out front and cheesy smile from the salesman, it is not someplace you want to spend your Saturday afternoon. And though car salesmen and dealerships have made the experience a little better, deep down it is still the same awful tactics.
To make it better for you, the buyer, prepare ahead of time! Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Obviously he wasn't speaking of car shopping, but he has the right idea. The following steps are all centered around preparation that will give you the leg up when you start wheeling and dealing.
Know Your Spending Limit
Even though we would all like to drive Tesla’s and Maseratt’s, our bank accounts are telling us to drive a 1989 Oldsmobile (which is a pretty sturdy car actually!). So first things first in car shopping is going to the bank and figuring out how much you are able to spend.
They may tell you an overall spending limit or they may sit down with you and breakdown by month how much you are able to spend on a loan. I won’t go into the argument of loan vs. no loan, but either way, know your limit! From experience, there is nothing worse than buying the “perfect” car and then realizing you can’t afford it.
Figure Out Your Car Needs
Next what are you using the car for? A 16 year old ‘s car needs and a family of four’s car needs are pretty different. Take time to figure out how much you will be driving, how far you will drive daily, what other things will use the car for, and then will this car last me 5 years into the future? Yes, you may trade it off before then, but you want to be prepared for any curve balls life may toss your way.
For example, say I am a 25 year old male, who is engaged and just started new job 10 miles from where I work, Now, there are a few different options that would work. But I might want to lean toward a sedan or small SUV. Why? Because both get good gas mileage and both have decent amount of room. If I am engaged to be married, little kiddos might be in the near future that I will car space for.
Research With Trusted Sites
After you figure out your budget and your needs, do your research. If you skip this step, you might go buy your car and be blind as to what is a fair price or what options you are missing. Below are ones we use the most when we car shop:
Search With Alternative Buying Options
When people think car shopping, they think dealerships. However, we are in the 21st century and car shopping has changed. There are online options for picking out and buying your next vehicle. Just to note, each has its pros and cons. For example, on Ebay, you might get a good deal, however, without seeing the car first, you might be buying a lemon.
Carvana - online shopping that offers many different makes and models and also offers financing.
Craigslist - yes, Craigslist. It might a little scary to some, but when buying a used car, it doesn’t get much better than this
Ebay - Ebay does sell cars! They have a wide range that you can bid on and win. Read the fine print always of course.
Prepare for the Dealership - financing, bring a friend, warranty sales, etc.
If you decided to go with the dealership, that is a worthy choice. A dealership does have advantage of being local, being able to see the car you are buying, and if something goes wrong with your car immediately after buying, they might be willing to work it out for you.
Just know these few things:
They will try to offer you financing through their own services. If you are open to that, great! If not, put your foot down and stick to what you decided earlier with your bank.
They will play the “Let me ask my manager” game. This is just a tactic they use to make you wait and sweat. They already know their bottom price without having to speak to their manager. Again be firm and ask for the price that you deem fair from what you researched earlier.
After you agree on a price, they are going to try and sell you a warranty. More often than not, these are a scam. Again be firm and tell them no.
If the above three things make you a little uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to bring a friend. My grandma is in sales and she absolutely loves car shopping because she likes to thrill of it. Crazy, I know! But hey, I would rather bring her in to car shop than do it myself most days.
Don't be Afraid to Walk Away
If your gut says no, you aren’t getting the price you want, or you just don’t like where everything is going. Just walk away. There are always more cars. Just regroup, do more research and come back stronger than ever. Don’t let them tell you the car will be sold if you don’t make a deal today. Big ‘ole lie they use to scare you.
By no means, is there a perfect way to buy a car. Every option has its pros and cons and it comes down to trusting your gut and being happy with your final choice. I would bet a shiny nickel that even the most successful people in world avoid car shopping as it is exhausting.
Buy something both you, your wallet, and your lifestyle will enjoy! Happy Hunting!