Putting The “Deal” In Dealer: How To Make The Most Of Your Car-Buying Experience
Next to purchasing a home, buying a new vehicle is the largest expenditure most Americans will make in their lifetimes. Driving the perfect car off the lot is exhilarating, but the process of buying it can be both daunting and scary. Daunting are the more than 100 different models of cars on the market, excluding trucks, crossovers, and SUVs. Car dealers’ long-standing reputation for dishonesty can make the purchase process scary. For the most manageable and stress-free car-buying experience, a consumer should make lists of their needs and wishes, do their research, be kind, yet firm with salespeople, and plan a “cooling-off” period.
Make a list
One of the biggest mistakes consumers make when arriving at a car lot is being unprepared. In not preparing, they can end up leaving with more vehicle than they need. Instead, it’s smart to make two lists: vehicular needs and a wish list. The needs should only be for features whose absence would constitute a “deal-breaker,” like a manual transmission for someone who can only drive automatic. In differentiating between wants and needs, the buyer is far more likely to be satisfied with their purchase.
Do the research
In studying consumer satisfaction and reliability websites, reviews of vehicle performance, handling, and pricing, the savvy consumer arrives at a dealership knowing the car makes and models that they’re interested in. They will also have weighed the benefits of a new car, such as warranty and rock-bottom interest rates for qualified buyers, with the lower price of a used model. In being informed, they can speak intelligently about the vehicles they intend to test drive.
Be kind, yet firm
A classic strategy car dealers employ when a customer arrives on the lot is to present them with an upgraded version of the vehicle in which they’re interested. A consumer can expect to be offered a more powerful engine, a premium package, or even a move of an entire model up the line. When presented with an undesired upgrade, the buyer can thank the sales representative, but insist on driving the model in which they initially expressed interest. Buyers can always visit another dealer or return a different day if the car is not available.
Plan a “cooling-off” period
The excitement of a new, shiny, great-smelling car has enticed many buyers into making purchases that they did not intend to make. By building a “cooling-off” period into their car-buying plans, impulsive, emotional decisions are more easily avoided. 24 hours after the initial excitement, it is much easier to identify a car’s pros and cons. Dealers may even put a 24 hour hold on a vehicle, allowing the buyer to ponder without fear of losing the car.
By being diligent and prepared, a visit to the car dealer can be a very rewarding, gratifying experience. Savvy consumers who do their homework and take steps to mitigate the inherent emotion of the car-buying experience can leave the lot assured that they got the right car for a great deal.