Car Buying Tips
Summary: Buying a new or used car has changed with the advent of the internet. No longer are you in the dark on true dealer cost and elusive rebates and promotions. There is no better time to get the best deal on a new or used car, dealer's are hungry for your business, but make sure you have the latest advice and strategies to get the best deal on your new or used car.
Car Buying Online...
We use the Internet for communicating, entertainment, and even education, so why not use it to get a good deal on a new car? The process of buying a new car has evolved with the rise of the Internet and the rules have finally tilted in the consumer's favor.
The process of buying a new car used to be one of epic battles between your dad and the salesman, each on fighting for the last penny. Dad knew the dealer was making a hefty profit, but he was never quite sure how much. Back in the day, the true dealer cost was not readily available to the average consumer. Any if dad was trading in a car in the deal, he was never certain of the trade-in value, since pricing guides were not regularly published. The dealership had the edge back in the day, having all the numbers they needed to make sure they made a sweet and profitable deal off of poor old dad.
Fast-forward to 2006 and now you have all the information your father never had at your fingertips. Just fire up your favorite web browser and start your new car buying quest.
The first area that the Internet really helps is in researching which car to buy. Car clubs, online reviews, and even automaker's websites provide a ton of information to help you pick your next vehicle. The major sites like www.Edmunds.com , www.kbb.com. and www.Car.com all have detailed vehicle specifications and allow you to compare features and pricing between vehicles. If you get confused, try making a simple spreadsheet in MS Excel to help organize your thoughts. If you are not that computer literate, a simple pad of paper will work fine to record information.
Before I buy a new car, I like to search for an online club or group dedicated to that vehicle. You would be surprised at how many clubs are out there, even for common run of the mill vehicles. If you are buying a performance vehicle, you will have better luck finding a club and some knowledgeable members who can point you in the right direction. Most clubs will have a forum where you can search for information and ask questions before you buy. Members will recommend which trim level to buy, and some of the common problems found on the new vehicles. It's amazing that brand new cars today still roll off the assembly line with problems, but they do. Some forums will even have salesmen from dealerships stop in and post special deals in the forums.
Once you have your new car chosen, you need to start finish your research by determining the true dealer cost, so you can negotiate with the dealer. Rebates, manufacturer to dealer incentives and invoice price all need to be determine. Rebates and invoice pricing can be found at any of the sites mentioned above. The manufacturer to dealer incentives are tougher to find, and the only site I have found that list them is www.Edmunds.com .
Once you have all the numbers determined, add up the incentives and rebates and subtract them from the invoice price. This is your true dealer cost, assuming you will be applying any customer rebates to the deal. You can then start negotiating from this true dealer cost number. I recommend offering to pay between 3 - 4% over true dealer cost, which I believe is a fair offer. Most dealers today are used to educated customers who have done their homework on the Internet. They know they will make their money back on service and repair, so they are willing to work on narrower margins.
The last tricky negotiating point is the trade-in. Again the above-mentioned sites will give you a good starting point on trade-in value. I will caution you though, dealers love to use Kelly Blue Book pricing for trade-in prices, as they always seem lower. I always suggest checking the other sites mentioned above as well as www.NADAGuides.com. Most lending institutions use NADA pricing information for their loan values and they have fairly accurate information.
If you do not wish to trade-in your old car, look to online advertising to sell it online and make a little more money than trade-in value. Sites like cars.com and www.autotrader.com have a wide reach, and can help you sell your car. I would advertise online and offline in local media to get the best coverage.
The above tips should get you on your way to your next new car, but be aware... there are still some old school salesmen out there that will fight you tooth and nail. If you come across them, it's sometimes better to just walk away and find another dealer who is in the 21st century.
When you are ready to make a new car purchase, I recommend using Dealix to get a free price quote from a dealer near you. It's a fast and easy form to fill out and it will get your negotiating started on the right foot.