Getting the Best Deal on a Used Car

By April 14, 2016Car Buying

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Getting the Best Deal on a Used Car

The car buying process is cyclical. As new cars are sold – used cars become available in the market. Buying “used” saves you money by avoiding depreciation associated with a new car. If you are shopping for a used car, and time is on your side, there are several strategies to help you shop smarter to get the best deal. According to Google Trends, half of all car shoppers with mobile devices use their smartphones while at the dealership. The top action people perform with their phones while on the lot is confirming that they are getting a good price on a vehicle. Searches for Kelley Blue Book and competing dealers occur more often when at the dealership.

Research Online

First, determine your budget and then begin researching car brands online before heading to the lot. Here is a list of the top used cars brands from Consumer Reports. Consider what cars fit your budget, lifestyle needs, and whether purchasing CPO is important. Next, you can research vehicles on Craigslist based on your criteria, such as, how long has the car been on the market? any reductions? typically cars over 30 days have had at least one mark down. You can also filter your search by distance, mileage, price, and features; to narrow your findings and get the car you desire. Also, compare auto dealerships in your area to see if any of them are offering a better deal on the same vehicle. You can purchase a used cars at; used car dealerships, used car superstores, and private-party sellers.

Trade-in’s, VIN’s and More!

If you are trading in your vehicle research how much it is worth – a good source is Kelley Blue Book. The more your vehicle is worth the less you will need to finance. Also, before contacting an auto dealership you should get a vehicle history report (VIN) from Carfax for the car you are interested in. If the car is a lemon it was save you a trip to the dealership! The VIN contains important information about the vehicle whether it been in an accident, salvage title, open recalls and odometer readings. If everything looks good up to this point it’s time to contact the dealership, take a test drive, and start negotiating!

Negotiating Tips:

  • First settle on the price of the vehicle you are buying; a general rule is 15-25% lower than the sticker price
  • Expect a counter offer
  • Be firm, yet courteous, when you have reached your final offer
  • Don’t discuss your trade-in vehicle until after you have determined your negotiated price
  • Be prepared to walk away than pay more than you should

Owning it…

You will finish the car sale in the Finance office and will need to make sure you are insured for the car before driving off the lot. The Finance department will try to sell you a number of additional items such as an additional warranty, anti-theft devices, prepaid service plans or fabric protection. Some car buyers want peace of mind that comes with extended warranties, so this is something you might want to consider (unless your used car is Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) or still under the manufacturer’s warranty). Make sure that you review the dealership sales contract thoroughly. In most states the contract entails the cost of the vehicle, documentation fee, smog certificate, sales tax, and license fees.

Our Tips? Shop for your ideal car early in the month or season, and purchase it later in the month or quarter/season. Get your test drives out of the way, and begin narrowing your list. When the last few days of the month come around, start visiting auto dealerships to start the final negotiating process and own your ride!

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