I love cars, but detest the stereotypical car dealership experience. It’s a heartfelt problem considering I so enjoy the variety of forms of personal conveyance that have been created that I’d like to buy a new car every few months. But I can’t do that, nor would I enjoy it.
Luckily, the shady used car lot or the vastly and unnecessarily over-complicated and mystery-shrouded high-pressure sales floor are not the only environments in which you can find yourself buying a new set of wheels. There are options like Carvana, CarMax, Craigslist, eBay… or if you’re wealthy enough, personal shopper or assistants who can take care of this for you.
By far most car-buyers are not the wealthy type, we are the type who want a vehicle that satisfies our needs, for a price that we are comfortable with and a payment method we select–whether that be cash, financing, leasing, bartering…
Due to the innate awfulness that is the new car dealership experience, allow me to share with you some excellent advice.
Research the car you want.
- Make sure you understand what’s standard and optional. Decide on drivetrain. Determine what options you want and what options you NEED. Decide how important the interior and exterior colors are to you.
Research your price.
- Used Edmunds.com for a ‘True Market Value” of a new car, or KBB.com for an estimated fair market value of a used car.
DO NOT negotiate price based on monthly payments
- If buying, negotiate based on the price of the car.
- If leasing, negotiate based on lease-end value, down payment, and terms.
Consider buying a used “pre-owned” vehicle.
- This means you miss out on new-car incentives and lease deals, but the first years of a car’s life are very bad for overall value, which may add up to a 30% discount on a two-year-old car.
If you’re shopping used cars at a dealership, buy certified pre-owned.
- These cars are often covered by a the original manufacturer’s warranty PLUS an additional manufacturer’s warranty extending the time and mileage of the initial warranty. Go big, extend to the maximum coverage (that might be 150,000 miles). Why pay $6800 for a new transmission at 118,000 miles when Mercedes-Benz will pay for it for you and give you a loaner during your vehicle’s downtime?
- This is a bit of a big deal–don’t buy a late model used Toyota at a VW dealership. Dealerships can only certify their own make of vehicle.
Don’t expect much money for your trade-in.
- You will likely be offered thousands less than ‘wholesale’ value as the dealer will likely unload your car to a wholesaler rather than turn around and sell your used car on his lot. Unless you have something VERY special, rare, unusual, and desirable–but if that’s the case, why not keep it or sell it to me?
As for newer, easier alternatives… I’m seriously loving the idea of carvana. Certified only, order online, you can have it delivered to your home, and there’s a 7-day test drive? I’m investigating this right now.