12 Steps Every Smart Car Buyer Needs to Follow
Most car buyers do it the wrong way - they focus only on monthly payments and drive right down to the nearest dealership before they've done all their research.
Let me show you the proper way to buy a new car so you can save thousands more than the typical buyer.
Most new car buyers already own a car that needs to be sold or traded-in. Figure out how much your current car is worth. This will make a huge impact on the amount of money you can put as a down payment, thus lowering your monthly bills.
Next, you need to decide if you're going to sell the car yourself or trade it in. There are pros and cons to both and this decision can affect your price by thousands of dollars.
Figure out your monthly budget. How much can you comfortably afford to pay each month - make sure to include insurance cost, keeping in mind that insurance for new cars is more costly than for used. You'll also want to figure out how much down payment you can afford.
Know your credit score and make sure to fix any errors that you find.
Shop and compare financing rates and figure out the maximum amount you qualify for. This will give you the maximum price you can pay for a vehicle including sales tax and all other fees. Make sure you use all your options including credit unions, local banks, and online sources. Most car shoppers can save over $1,000 just with this step.
Figure out if it makes more sense to lease rather than buy your vehicle. In most cases, it's better to buy, but there are exceptions. Figure out which one is right for you.
Do your research on vehicles that fit your budget. Look for factors such as quality, reliability, and dependability. Test drive all the vehicles you're interested in that fit within your budget and figure out the trim levels that fit your needs best.
Narrow your choices down to two or three vehicles. The one you prefer, and another one or two that you will also be happy with if you can't get a good price on the first.
Find out the invoice price and real world prices that others are paying for the vehicles of your choice (TrueCar is a good source). Also find out the exact rebates and incentives being offered in your local area and whether or not it's good to buy now or wait.
Contact as many dealers as you can to get their best offers on the car of your choice. Make sure to use my car buying method.
Be aware of the fees and upsells the dealer will try to pass on to you after the sale.
Be willing to walk away from any deal you're not happy or comfortable with.
With these 12 steps, you've got a perfect outline on exacty what you need to do through the entire car buying process.
My Recommendation for Car ShoppersTrueCar No-Haggle, Edmunds Price Promise and 1-800 Car Show are the quickest way to see the lowest car prices in your area. These sites show you no-haggle prices from dealers closest to you - and the deals are usually really good. This should be the first step you take when negotiating your car price. Follow this up with my checklist to make sure you squeeze out every last bit of savings.
- Gregg Fidan
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About: Gregg Fidan
Gregg Fidan + is the founder of RealCarTips. After being ripped off on his first car purchase, he devoted several years to figuring out the best ways to avoid scams and negotiate the best car deals. He has written hundreds of articles on the subject of car buying and taught thousands of car shoppers how to get the best deals.