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What To Know About Buying A Car: Some Tips That Everyone Should Know!

Updated on January 9, 2014

Millions of Americans buy new and used cars each year, and most of them do so with no idea what kind of people they are dealing with. Anyone who would go into a car dealership intent on buying a new or used car, with no preparation whatsoever, might as well add 10-20% to what they would like to pay for a new or used truck. It is utter foolishness. With a little bit of time, preparation, and some great car buying tips, the bottom line price, and, if financing, the monthly payment can by greatly lowered.

For anyone who is looking to make a car purchase, below are five simple car buying tips that can help you make the best purchase for you and receive a deal that you can be proud of, and not have to hide. These car buying tips can change your car buying experience from a huge headache to a simple exercise in frugality. Read on and find out just what to know about buying a car.

Car Buying Tip #1 - Do Your Homework!

Before buying a home, or making an investment, almost all Americans do a good bit of research regarding the neighborhood, the construction, and even whether the house is in a flood zone. However, when most people begin looking for a vehicle, they may look at who has the lowest list prices, but their investigation goes no further. People in auto sales know this fact and take advantage of it every day.  Do sales staff know these car buying tips are out there?  Of course, but they assume you are too lazy to learn them.

To get the best buy when looking to purchase a new or used vehicle, you must do your homework! Read online car or truck reviews. You need to know the average sales price, the Blue Book value, the MSRP and any other figure you can find about the particular vehicle you are looking to buy. You should also know what the standard costs are for any added amenities to the vehicle above the standard package.

Some car buying guides will tell you that you need to know what financing rates are available in the current market, but I will deal with that in a tip #3.

Car Buying Tip #2 - Expect To Walk Away

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The first understanding that you should have either with yourself or with anyone car shopping with you is that you should expect to walk away. If your underlying expectation when you walk into a dealership is "I want this car or that truck", you will be easily taken advantage of by the sales staff. If, however, you expect to walk away without a new or used vehicle, it will be harder for the sales staff to sweep you up in the new car dream. This is one of the hardest car buying tips to master. It is way to easy to get caught up in car buying, especially when you are so close to the car of your dreams.

You should especially expect to walk away while discussing the price of the truck or car. If the salesperson thinks they have you hooked, they will twist the numbers easily and have you in well above what you can afford.

Car Buying Tip #3 - Have Your Financing Already Set Up

One of the favorite places for car salespeople to make money comes with setting up financing for their prospective buyers.  When your sales staff tells you the financing they have for you, it is generally a few percent higher than what you could secure at your own bank or credit union.  Yet they will tell you that is the best financing available for you and will usually give you some speech about your credit.

One of the ways they make extra money through the financing is that banks and financing companies will give the dealer more money if they can secure the financing at a higher interest rate.  Another way is to prepare you for say a 9% rate, then when they "find you a better deal", they don't actually pass all the savings back to you.  Instead, they assume that the buyer does not know how to calculate what the payment should be.  This assumption is usually correct.

The best way to bypass this shell game is to have your own financing when you enter the dealer's door.  Instead of worrying about interst rates and monthly payments, you can focus on the bottom line and gain some actual savings, which leads me to the next tip...

Car Buying Tip #4 - Don't Negotiate Monthly Payment!

The easiest way for salespeople to slide in extra costs and to get more for a vehicle than is fair, is to get your attention placed squarely on your anticipated monthly payment. One of the first things they will ask you is "where do you need to get your monthly payment?" The next task they tackle is to make you feel like your target payment is naive and impossible. Once they have accomplished this, the sky is the limit...for them, not you.

Car salesmen do all of this with the underlying knowledge that 1. most new buyers will spend much more than they want to get what they want, and 2. most new buyers have no idea how to calculate a monthly payment. By negotiating the bottom line price only, you will see any extra costs that are slipped in and just how much the salesperson is willing to give on the listed price of the truck or car.

To help you in this process, if monthly payment is important to you, use an online car payment calculator to figure where you need the bottom line to be to get the payment you want. For smartphone users, there are also car payment calculator apps for each smartphone platform. Pulling your IPhone out and telling the sales staff that they are not quite calculating the payment right will definitely knock them off their game. If nothing else, they will know that you are looking at everything and will probably not try to slip as much "fluff" into the price.

Car Buying Tip #5 - Find And Cut Added Costs

Two ways dealers make extra money, is to 1. charge you fees that you do not need to pay, and 2. charge you too much for an added feature.  The most notorious extra fee is the dealer prep fee.  This fee is charged for getting the vehicle ready to sell.  If you are buying a new vehicle, this cost is usually paid for by the factory, and should not be passed on to the consumer.  Do some simple research prior to buying to see if the maker of the car you are buying pays for dealer prep.

As far as paying too much for added features, you will encounter this with almost anything extra you buy.  Are you looking to add a bed liner, DVD player, custom wheels, or even an extended warranty?  For any of these and more, you should find the cost from the dealer and then search around, or know what you can get them for from a business that specializes in that area.  For example, a 2 year extended warranty from the dealership can cost an added $2400 or more, but if you get one from an insurance company or a service plan from a national brand, you may pay around $1000.  That is some very tangible savings.

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    • chloesdad profile image

      Jeff M 3 years ago from Newington NH

      Great Hub! It is good that people read hubs like this to educate themselves.

    • Michael McRoy profile image

      Michael McRoy 6 years ago from Somewhere over the Rainbow

      Great information J! If people could really understand all there is to know about purchasing that new or used vehicle they would pay closer attention to articles like this one.