Don’t make the mistake of heading to the car dealer empty handed. The Internet has made so much information available that you’d be a fool not to do some serious research before you buy your next car.
Before you leave your house, get on the Internet and figure a few things out. If you need an auto loan, check out a car loan calculator to see what kind of interest rate you need to be able to make the purchase. Learn all you can about the make and model of vehicle and if it’s used, learn the specifics of the actual car.
Kelley’s blue book has information on new and used car pricing. If you’re shopping for a new car, find out the manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) before you head to your dealer. Learn about incentives and rebates offered by the manufacturer. Make sure you bring a print out when you go so you have something to back you up if their sticker price seems a little high.
If you’re in the market for a used car, whether you buy from a dealer or a private individual, get some information about the car before you buy it. Order a CARFAX Vehicle History Report to learn the ins and outs of any vehicle. All you need is the vehicle identification number (VIN) and you can get a title check. Find out if the vehicle has ever been salvaged, flooded or rebuilt. You can also learn if the odometer has rolled over or been rolled back or was broken for a significant period of time. Has the car been involved in a major accident? Don’t unknowingly buy a rebuilt wreck. Finally, you can do a registration check to see if the car was part of a fleet, police force, used as a taxi or as a rental car. Bring the report with you but don’t pull it out unless you need to. Be sneaky, ask questions that you know the answers to and see if they tell you the truth.
Use a car loan calculator to figure out how much car you can really afford. Know your limits before you head down to the dealer. They may tell you they can offer you a great deal on a $30,000 car when all you really can afford is a $20,000 car. A car loan calculator lets you type in the cost of a vehicle to figure your monthly payment or type in your maximum monthly payment and it will tell you the maximum you can spend on the car. Use the car loan calculator before you go to the dealer.
Take it one step further and get your auto loan ahead of time. If you get pre-approval on your auto loan before you go to the dealer, then you’ll have one less thing to debate when you get there. In fact, you can act as if you’re making a “cash” offer.
Do your research ahead of time and walk into an auto dealership armed with information and printouts to help you get a fair deal.