Shopping for a car isn’t always the most pleasant walk in the park. When you’re off to the dealership, you might want to line up some fun tunes or interesting podcasts, bring a friend, and be real with the salesperson! Talk to them like they’re a friend. And, the most important thing to remember when you shop for a car: it’s YOUR show and YOU are in charge.
Do not negotiate. This is key. If they do give you new information you think is useful, walk away and think about it, then come back or call back later. This tactic of walking away will also put pressure on them to give you a better deal.
Here are 5 tips that are designed to empower you as someone who knows what they want and how to get it as you shop for a car – no playing games!
Know what you want when you shop for a car
Before you go shop for a car, do your own research and know what you are looking for.
- Make, model, year(s)
- Gas mileage
- Passenger capacity
- Condition, New or Used
- Truck space for groceries or cargo room
- Cost of replacement parts
- Capability like all-wheel drive, front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive
What to expect from the car salesperson
You want to feel good around the salesperson when you shop for a car. Go in with a positive attitude and know that you’re in charge of the relationship. In this relationship, your boundary is that you don’t tell them information regarding your financial situation or the car unless it’s necessary. Car salespeople are allowed to lie, embellish, and mislead you, and they may use any information you give them to do that. Be responsibly friendly! Maybe laugh it off when they ask for unnecessary information or try to sell you more than what you’ve stated you’re looking for.
- If they start talking about random add-ons or other things you haven’t asked about, tell them politely that you are not interested. If they start talking about it again, tell them you are going to go to another dealer. ALWAYS BE WILLING TO WALK. As you are walking out the door, they will likely make another deal with you. If it’s what you walked in wanting, go for it. If not, keep walking and check out other options.
- They may tell you all kinds of things when you want to leave. “Oh, we don’t know if this car will still be available,” etc. That’s something you knew going in, though! Don’t let them get to you.
- Be prepared to repeat the process with multiple dealerships multiple times to get what you want.
At the dealership, check these parts of the car
- The engine compartment
- Tire tread. Use the penny test. Insert a penny with Lincoln’s head upside-down. When you see all of Lincoln’s head above the tread, it’s time to replace the tires. If it’s near the tip of his head but still above it, you know the tires will need to be replaced soon after you purchase the car.
- Brakes. When you drive, you don’t want to hear any squealing, squeaking, grinding, or growling. Also, when you look through the spokes of one of the car’s wheels, you should see at least 1/4 inch of the brake pad on the outside of the metal rotor.
- Rotors. A bad rotor will make a noise like squeaking, and wobble and shake while braking.
- The spare tire and car jack. Know if the car should come with those or not, and where they are located.
This is the number one thing car salespeople want to sell you when you shop for a car. You may tell your salesperson that you’re not interested in a warranty. You may tell them every step of the way that you’re not interested, they’ll act like it’s no problem. But they’ll likely force it on you, saying something like it’s protocol to read the warranty. No matter what you say they’ll try to push it on you. They’ll leave the room and make you wait, sometimes hours. They’ll want to know what they can do to get you to buy the warranty. No matter how many times you say you’re not interested, they may never let up until it has been brought down so much that it actually ends up being worth it!
Secure your own financing
It’ll save you time. You have no idea what they’re telling you is objective or truthful. They can ALWAYS go lower.
Do your best to stay positive and have a fun experience. This mindset, in almost all situations, will only do you good!