One day during my lunch break I dropped my vehicle off at the local dealership to get the oil changed. I was dressed in business attire, hair up, heels on and I walked onto the sales floor with confidence in my stride. On the sales floor there was a beautiful and new sparkly purple Ford Edge, a vehicle I had my eyes on for a couple of months. I opened the door and sat in the driver’s seat stroking the steering wheel waiting patiently for an agent to notice me…they did. He asked if he could help me and I smiled, “I would like to take this car for a test drive.” I remember he swallowed before suggesting several cars outside he could get the keys for. I sweetly repeated myself, “I would like to take this car please.” The words, almost like a spoken spell flowed through my lips and well, my wish was granted as two agents literally moved walls for me to drive the vehicle off of the sales floor and onto the road. I remember watching the odometer flip to the tenth mile just for me- such a thrill! My husband and I have test driven countless cars and purchased only a few, but there are three big tips and tricks I have learned when it comes to working with car agents and buying the vehicle at the price that I want to pay: do your homework, have confidence and lastly be blunt with the agent.
Doing your homework is the BIGGEST tip I would give to anyone before even setting their foot on a car dealership lot and it has two parts: do your homework online and in person. First, the internet is super helpful in this homework department. You can look up vehicles using Kelly blue book, or carmax, velocity, NADA, cars.com, autotrader on these websites you know how much your vehicle is worth, what dealerships are asking for that vehicle, what a fair/good asking price for that vehicle is. Use this information to your advantage when it comes to bargaining with your agent. Remember- knowledge is power!
Some of these websites allow actual car owners to rate the vehicles- read the reviews! In doing so, you save valuable time for yourself and the agent. I always find it comical when an agent tries to cram my six foot husband and I (standing at 5’11”) into a short and compact car. We have been in many vehicles where our heads were centimeters away from the ceiling. It’s terrible! Doing your homework and reading others reviews on cars saves everyone the hassle!
Doing the homework in person is just as important as doing your homework online. You won’t know how a vehicle feels to you by reading the reviews, you do it in person. However, I would never suggest test driving a car with the intention to buy right away. Do your homework, shop around and beware of the lovely scare tactics, and strong willed agents who might pressure you into buying before you are ready. Remember, you are in charge of your money! Walk away if you start to feel uncomfortable.
By repeatedly test driving cars you are interested in and doing your homework being confident with the car buying experience will come naturally. The day I drove a car off of the sales floor with the brand new Ford Edge was a blast, but I walked away without the car. Why? Because I knew I was there to go for a joy ride, however I was doing my homework- seeing if this agent would bend over backwards for me, which he did. This agent offered me an enticing deal to purchase my dream car, but I didn’t cave to the pressure.
After you have finished your homework and you are ready to buy your vehicle be confident, know your goals, financial limits and before entering the dealership doors go to your own bank and get pre-approved for the amount you want to spend on the vehicle. Once you have gone through the negotiating and bargaining portion of buying a vehicle and have settled on a price you are comfortable spending, then you remind the agent that you have been pre approved, and then you tell them the amount. Keeping the amount to yourself is important, it gives you the power. At this point, if the amount you are pre approved for and the negotiated price is within a couple hundred dollars of matching, the agent will more than likely settle with your number. Simply put- cash is king.
Lastly, be blunt and honest with your agent while purchasing. I don’t have time to waste, and neither does the agent. When I am car shopping with my family or with just my spouse and I when the dealer approaches I tell them my objective. I like to tell the agent upfront that I am doing my homework and would like to test drive a couple of cars and then I give the agent a time limit before I have to leave. This blunt approach usually works and we don’t waste time. Win-win in my opinion!
Being blunt and honest does not mean telling the agent that you need to buy a car. Imagine you are at car dealership lobby and in walks a family of four with a heavily pregnant woman begging for a mini van for their growing family. Those agents will rapidly run to that family like puppies to bacon- walking meat. Yes you may need a bigger vehicle, but if that baby needs to cook for another couple of months, you have time to do your homework, shop around and even come back another day to look for cars, don’t feel pressured into buying that night. Keep the power of buying in your hands, play it cool while you do your homework and look for the best vehicle for you and your family.
In conclusion, Shane and I have test driven sooo many cars and we consider ourselves experts in this car buying process. Remember you can walk away from a car deal at any point- as long as your signature and or bank account was not been written down. If at any point you feel uncomfortable, pressured, whatever- walk away. You can’t be emotionally involved into making a terrible decision that you might regret for months to come. Ask to take the car home for the night- we have! Taking your time on this decision is important but it also gives the dealer opportunity to throw in “extras” to sweeten the deal. Allow the dealer to sweat in his shoes, talk to his boss and let this happen- it’s to your advantage. If you followed these three tips of doing your homework being confident, blunt and honest during the negotiating and bargaining process, hopefully you are driving off the lot with the car and price you want and feeling good about it too!
My family and I standing with our recent purchase- yes we are now an official mini-van family. 😀 But it’s pretty luxurious and using the above tips and more (five pages worth of tips and tricks I cut) Shane and I were able to save our family $3,000 on the van and get $3,000 more for our trade in… so we’ll take it!
What tips do you give friends when buying a new vehicle? What has worked for you?