Car dealerships. They’re universally met with disdain and unease. Dealerships have earned themselves quite a reputation for trying to hustle poor, unsuspecting customers and take them for all they have. While this bad reputation may have been earned, there are many who actually want to give the consumer a good, fair, experience. They want you to come back when you are ready to buy another car. However, that doesn’t mean they are not out to make a profit and that you the consumer are powerless and doomed to be dealt a raw deal. On the contrary, here are ten things you can do to get a leg up the next time you head to the car dealership.
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10 You Can Skip The Dealership Entirely
You don’t have to even go to a dealership to buy a car in some cases. The wonderful thing about this day and age that we live in, is that so much can be done online, even buying a car. You can browse the dealership inventory from home and view detailed pictures of the cars, as well as lists of their features and statistics.
A good deal of the paperwork can be completed through the dealership’s website, including the finance information. Then, go for a test drive if you so choose, confirm everything is correct, and drive off the lot. Once all of the paperwork and payment is finalized, they will deliver the car right to your door.
9 You Can (And Should) Do Research
So, you still want to go to the dealership to pick out your car. Before you even walk out of the house, RESEARCH! The Internet is an amazing tool and almost everything you could need to know is there. A good starting point is to research what car you want. Once you find a car that fits you, you can research the dealerships themselves.
Look for places that have good customer reviews. By doing this, you can ensure that you know what vehicle you want and steer the appointment in the direction you want it to go in instead of being led around the lot to look at cars you either can’t afford or have no interest in.
8 Bring Your Own Financials
Don’t trust the loans and financing the dealership provides for you. The salesperson will tell you their finance department will get you the best deal, discounts and a low interest rate but unfortunately, the truth of the matter is selling cars is a business and the dealership needs to turn a profit.
So, when you give the dealership your information, they run your credit and talk to multiple lenders that they are partnered with. To circumvent this, make sure to look into your own credit and talk to your bank or preferred lender. You should have plenty of information about the car you are interested in purchasing and your bank or lender can provide you a pre-approved loan and interest rate.
7 Don’t Fall For The Yo-Yo Finance Trick
After you’ve taken your new car home, the dealership calls and tells you that the financing you had signed fell through and you need to come back and sign a new agreement. Once you get back to the dealership and look over the new financing, it is nowhere near as good as what you originally agreed to.
Now you're faced with a choice: Give in and sign the new, worse deal, or give back your new car. This situation is no accident. This is a common ploy by dealerships in order to get their profit margins higher and to help their partnered lenders. Either give back the car or bring your own pre-approved loan.
6 Salesperson Will Try To Sell You Want They Want To Unload
The moment you set foot in the door of the dealership, the sales folks are going to immediately start sizing you up. They look at the current car you’re driving, how you’re dressed, and how you carry yourself.
By considering all of this, the salesperson will come to their own conclusions about what you can afford and how they can push you towards the deal they want to give you. If they begin to push in the wrong direction, politely but firmly remind them that you know exactly what you want. This will send the message that you mean business and are not going to be swayed into a deal that you don’t want.
5 Visit At End Of The Month When They Need To Meet Quotas
There’s an old bit of advice that suggests going in the evening towards closing time. The thought behind this is that if you go when the dealership is almost closed, the salesfolk will be eager to go home and you can win the fight for a better deal. However, they’ll stay long after the dealership has closed up shop to get their commission.
Go towards the end of the month. The salespeople not only make commission, but they often have quotas to fill. By going to the dealership towards the end of the month, you’ll be going toward the end of the quota period.
4 You Have The Right To Know All The Costs And Fees
You’ve chosen a car that is within your budget and meets your needs and wants. However, you notice that the price of your new car has gone up significantly from the sticker price. What was once a $10,000 vehicle sitting in the lot, has now jumped to a $12,000 to $13,000 vehicle in the short walk to the salesperson’s desk.
The culprit is none other than additional costs and fees. Now, some of these extra costs are obvious and unavoidable, such as taxes, but there are others that the dealership will attempt to sneak in to make that extra buck. Make sure every cost is listed and explained.
3 You Can Haggle And Negotiate
It might seem like a thing of the past or confined to yard sales and flea-markets, but the car dealership is a place where you don’t necessarily have to bite the bullet and pay whatever they demand.
So if the price isn’t quite right, or if you find yourself staring down unwanted costs like in our last section, there's nothing to be lost from trying to negotiate and haggle. Naturally, while you hold the money, the dealership holds the product and if they deem that the price is getting too low for them, they’ll counter your offer or turn you down altogether. It never hurts to try though. Best case scenario, you save some money.
2 You Can Request A Different Salesperson At Any Time
The salesperson you get decides and defines your experience, for better or worse. If the person is friendly, flexible, and open-minded, they will listen to what you're looking for, work with you, and be easier to negotiate with.
They’ll have customer service as a priority so that the location has good reviews and perhaps when it is time for you to get another car, you will return there. On the other side of the coin, they could be rude, pushy, and abrasive. As a paying customer, you don’t have to stick with a salesperson with a bad attitude. You can ask for a manager to assign you someone else who is attentive to your needs.
1 You Can Walk Out At Any Time
Last but certainly not least, you can leave the dealership, at ANY point in the process. This simple act is one of the most powerful tools you have. If you feel you aren’t getting what you want or are uncomfortable with anything else, thank them for their time and get up and leave. It's certainly not a fantastic option to consider; going to buy a car can take several hours, if not a day long affair and walking away with nothing feels like a giant waste of everyone’s time. It can feel wrong to walk away. However, you need to do what is right for you and your peace of mind.