Are there things you should do when buying a car, other than falling in love with a make and model? You bet. And most of those things are done early, in preparation for when you do find that exact right car.
Get the loan approved before you get the car
Unless you know you’re going to pay cash for that right car of yours, start by getting approved for a loan. It will keep your ultimate negotiation focused on car price, not monthlies or financing, which will help you in the end. You’ll know just what you can afford, and you can still choose dealer financing if it ends up being a better loan.
Know the true worth of your current car
If you’re going to sell or trade in the car you’re driving, have a reasonable idea of what you’ll be getting for it. You don’t want to either give up hard won price concessions on a trade-in or think you have more up-front cash than you really have available.
Don’t be shy. There are plenty of reasons unknown to you why someone is willing to sell you a car for less than the list price. For some negotiating tips, go here
Decide on extras before you’re signing papers
If you are buying from a dealer and you’re sitting across from the F & I (financing and insurance) manager, you’re likely going to be offered an add-on or two—things like alarm systems or extended warranties in addition to the manufacturer’s warranty. Do a little homework—know what exists as a warranty on the new or used car you’re buying, and make your decision on additional warranties long before you’re in a room and anxious to get the signing over with and out onto the road.
If you’re thinking about leasing instead of buying, we have some pointers here.