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How to Be an Educated Car Shopper

Walking into a car dealership can be an overwhelming and anxiety-provoking experience if you’re not prepared for everything that’s about to happen. Purchasing a vehicle – whether new or used – is a big expense and a significant responsibility and one to take seriously.

Although our dealership is stocked with professionals who are here to help you instead of confusing you with tricky sales tactics, we still want you to feel comfortable and educated when you step into our lot. Here’s what you can do before you visit us to make sure you get exactly what you want, understand your rights as a purchaser, and feel at ease with the car buying process:

Browse Online First

Taking some time to research cars online before you head to the dealership is one of the best things you can do to make sure you come prepared. Check out manufacturer websites or car review sites to learn more about features, safety ratings, and warranties before you make your visit.

Once you find a car that you think will fit your needs, you can visit dealership websites to see what’s in their inventory. This is a good way to see if dealerships near you have the models with the features you want.

Compare Pricing

During your research phase, you’ll also want to look at and compare pricing for the models you’re considering. Dealerships will inevitably have different prices for their cars based on their condition, mileage, and other factors. Learn the estimated value of the car you want by checking Kelley Blue Book or the manufacturer’s website and compare that value to the prices dealerships are offering.

You should also consider whether to buy a new or used vehicle. Sometimes, purchasing a car that’s even one or two years old can save you a lot of money over a new vehicle.

Find the Right Dealership

Asking your friends and family for recommendations of dealerships they trust can save you a lot of time and potential headaches. People you know are likely to tell you the truth about their experiences.

Once you have a shortlist of potential dealerships, you can do your own research to find out what type of financing they offer, special deals or promotions they have available, and whether they have the vehicles you’re looking for.

Research Trade-In Information

If you’re going to trade in a vehicle, you need to know how much it’s worth. Again, Kelley Blue Book’s online value calculator is an excellent helper. You can plug in details about your car’s model and condition to get an estimated trade-in value. Arming yourself with this information when you walk onto a car lot gives you more wiggle room when it comes to negotiating a trade-in offer.

Understand How Much You Can Afford

Your credit score, income, and debts will determine how much you can afford to pay for a car. You can get a free credit report annually to check what is affecting your score, and many banks and credit unions offer free monthly credit score updates.

Your car payment should be no more than 10% to 15% of your monthly income and you’ll need to consider how much you’ll pay in car insurance for the vehicle you want.

Learn How to Negotiate

No dealership expects you to visit them without at least some negotiation on your part. You might negotiate the price of your trade-in or see if there’s any way to lower your interest rate and monthly payments. Either way, don’t feel bad about doing it.

However, it’s important to be reasonable. Negotiating with extremely low-ball offers or a negative attitude isn’t going to get you the results you want.

Take Advantage of Rebates and Other Promotions

When you buy a new car, you can usually find some type of manufacturer rebate or cash offer. Sometimes, leasing carries special offers you can’t get with financing. You can find these deals on manufacturer websites before you visit a dealership.

But, don’t count out used cars for saving you money. Some dealerships offer excellent promotions or financing offers for their used inventory. It never hurts to ask!

Don’t Skip the Test Drive

A test drive can tell you a lot about a car. Sometimes, everything about a car will feel right to you until you step inside and drive it. The cockpit could feel cramped to you or you just don’t like the way it drives. It happens – and that’s exactly what test drives are for.

No matter how much you insist you’ll love the car you’re looking at, don’t make a final decision before driving it. Test it both on regular roads and highways to be sure that it’s the car for you.

The above tips can turn anyone into an educated car shopper before they step foot onto a car lot. When you know everything you can about the car buying process, you’ll be more likely to end up with the best vehicle for you. Contact us today to learn more about our inventory and financing options.

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