The stress. The anxiety. The waiting. The stakes are high when you are buying a new or used car. You and the salesperson watch each other across the lot. You both squint in the hot sun, waiting for the other to make the first mistake. Cue the wild west sound. Your mistakes can cost you thousands, but with some preparation you can be ready for them. Here are the biggest mistakes to avoid.
Mistake 1: Not Shopping for the Loan
Don’t just show up. You need to know what you can afford, and you need protection from dealership finance traps. They will often distract you with a low monthly payment. Did you catch the increase in term, raised rates, or other added expenses? This could add thousands of dollars to the life of the loan. Don’t fall for it. Keep in mind the total cost including taxes, fees, and interest. Longer terms create an illusion of affordability. The Wall Street Journal has a great podcast about this: The 7-Year Car Loan. Make use of an auto loan calculator to help you out.
Luckily, there is an easy solution to all of this. Get pre-approved for a loan. This will tell you exactly how much you qualify for and it’s a great way to score a good rate. All that loan negotiating has been done ahead of time and can be skipped at the dealership. You will be similar to a cash buyer in their eyes, and the financial stuff will be much simpler.
Mistake 2: No Research
There’s more to the internet than cat videos. These days you can do most of your car shopping on websites and through email. You can not only choose a sweet ride but get a good idea of how much it is selling for. You need to know if the price you are getting is fair. Use common pricing guides and check to see the sales price at different locations. Luckily, you have your letter of pre-approval to help guide what you can afford.
Mistake 3: Overestimate Your Negotiation Skills
Everyone has friends and family who know all the best tricks for getting a good deal. Every dealership has a team of trained salespeople who see those tricks every day. Your Uncle Arthur only buys a car every five years, while that salesperson might sell hundreds a year. They know exactly how to handle him.
Some tricks that might have worked at one time often stop working because everyone is doing it. Have you heard to buy a car during a certain season? When the weather is bad? When the dealership needs to reach a goal? So has everyone else, and these can be the dealerships’ busiest times. It is hard to predict. The real best time to buy a car is when you need one.
You can still try to get a good deal. You have your letter of pre-approval, your research on a fair price, and your willingness to walk away. That’s all you need.
Mistake 4: All the Extras!
Enter the lion’s den. They take you to see the Financial Manager to finalize your sale. Don’t be fooled. This person is the Bruce Lee of salespeople. The previous negotiating was to make you feel like you’ve won and to soften you up. Now you’ve been at the dealership all day, you picked a car, you agreed on a price, and you start to relax.
This is when they try to sell you things with all the extra features. This is also where the dealership makes the most money. Know what you want ahead of time. Don’t let them make you feel like a jerk for saying “no.” You’re great. Everyone says so.
Your letter of pre-approval will help protect you from spending more than you can afford. Even if you do make a mistake, you can always refinance. Denver Community Credit Union is offering a great auto refinance promotion that could save you money. Find those resources and more today at DenverGoals.com.