Need Some Insider Tips to Buying a Used Car? Who Doesn’t? From being greeted on the “Lot” to selecting the right vehicle to meeting with the Finance Manager – the whole process can become challenging. Here are 5 critical Insider Tips to buying that perfect used car that will help make the purchase a more positive and financially sound experience.
Tip 1: Know your Budget.
This can be a monthly number or an “out the door” cash price. Remember to account for gas, maintenance, and insurance costs, which can easily add to the monthly payment of the car. It’s important to set a comfortable, yet strict number for your budget so you don’t get “up-sold” by the Dealer.
Also, be wary of extended loan terms. Your goal should be to find the right vehicle at the right price / budget, and within the shortest term possible. Under 60 months financing is optimal, but over 60 months means that you are on too much car. Plus, the vehicle will continue to depreciate dramatically before you get half way through paying it off.
Tip 2: Select your Target Vehicle
This seems straight forward, but most people do not do this – or at least don’t stick with it. So many people enter a dealership needing a certain vehicle, but leaving with something they wanted, instead. This is not necessarily bad, as often times we subordinate our needs for our wants. Just don’t be the bonehead that needs a low-milage family car, but leaves with a very high milage BMW coupe just because the Bmer looked cool. Be realistic with your Target Vehicle and stick to it.
However, being flexible on the color or equipment actually helps the dealer provide you the best deal possible. You may prefer a popular white one, but they may have had a red one in their inventory for a long time that they will do anything to move out.
Tip 3: Do your Research!
The biggest benefit of knowing what type of vehicle you are in the market for is that you can research its reliability, cost of use, and fair market price based on options, milage and condition. Doing so allows the buyer to drive the negotiations, rather than the dealer.
So few people research their desired vehicles, and surprisingly most simply buy on emotion. These are the same customers that end up having buyer’s remorse. Often times, what they just purchased does not pan out like they wanted, or they feel they paid too much after the fact.
Additionally, by pre-selecting a vehicle, the buyer becomes more realistic if that choice is within their budget, and keeps them on a more pragmatic path to a positive car-buying experience.
Tip 4: Love your Saleperson
Funny thing happens when a salespersons feels a strong connection with a potential customer. They tend to become a much stronger advocate for the customer. Prices seem to drop more quickly, and the salesperson truly becomes more helpful. The buyer ends up selling the salesperson than visa versa.
However, going into a dealership with a chip on your shoulder, or treating the salesperson with disrespect or omnipotence creates a confrontational situation where they will take you for every dollar they can.
Being nice, though, does not mean being weak. On the contrary. You would be surprised to see how much easier it is to get great deal with nothing more than a smile and friendly disposition.
Tip 5: Don’t Love the Car
Or at least, don’t show it. Buying a car is like playing poker. Those who tip their hand loses part of their pot. Also, don’t be afraid to walk away from the deal. Just make sure that the salesperson and manager know that you are a serious buyer beforehand, and that you are willing to make the purchase right then and there if they make the deal right for you. Car dealers will cut a deal to the bare minimum before they let a true buyer walk.
Remember, that you can visit several other dealers before the end of the day, but you may be one of only a few customers that the dealer sees on a given day. Remember that you are in charge. It’s your money, and the dealer needs to vie to earn your business. No matter what they throw at you, stick to your plan and keep it pleasant.