Let me preface this by saying I’m no expert. I mean seriously, I’m no expert by a huge landslide. With that said, I recently had the need to purchase a new car – and thought I’d share my experience and findings with all of you.
I have to give credit to my boss for my prize of getting the most car for my money. I’d considered myself fairly savvy before when it came to big purchases, but apparently I wasn’t. Without his valuable advice, I’d have likely been taken advantage of.
So… here we go.
First, know the vehicle you’re looking for, as well as the highest-end budget you are willing to go. These are two very important steps you need to have already decided. Once you know these two things, schedule a test drive at a dealership. Let them know up front you’re not talking numbers on the day of your test drive, and hold fast to this. They’ll try to make a deal with you that day anyway, but hold your ground and repeat this out loud to them as many times as needed. It’s just a test-drive, after all.
When it comes to a car purchase, the less personal info you divulge to the salesman prior to getting your best price – the better for you. You ‘don’t know’ if you’re trading in when asked. You’re ‘not sure’ about the money you’ll put down. Do make sure they’re aware you’re in absolutely no hurry to make a purchase (even if you are). Never tell them the highest you’re willing to go in price – they’ll run with this number until the end if you do. Constantly put it out there that the best bottom line price is the winner, regardless of which dealership. Make all these things part of your religion and stick with it.
Okay, so you’ve test driven the car you want, and hopefully love it. If not – keep doing your research until you find ‘the one’. Next, go to www.cars.com – a simple, user-friendly site that lets you key in the make, model and year vehicle you’re looking for. It even allows you to do an advanced search to include options on the car that are important to you.
This website really is a handy little tool. Expand your radius as large as you’re comfortable with, I chose 100 miles. As you begin your search, it will bring up all the available vehicles at the dealerships within that radius, also listing their price. This is where it can get a little tricky. Once you nail down a group of a couple to several cars, make note of the dealership the vehicle is listed at. You can use a new tab to go to that dealership, leaving the previous cars.com one up for reference.
I personally made the decision to handle everything online, and only visit the dealership twice. My first visit was for the initial test-drive… the last visit happened when I sealed the deal. That second and final visit would only happen once I had my bottom-line and OTD (out the door) price. You should request two prices… the lowest bottom line without taxes, etc., and the total with taxes etc. (OTD) price. Again, explore all your options – do not commit or ‘side’ with one single dealership. Remember it’s the lowest price that wins your business.
Know your rebate options. You don’t have to discuss them immediately, but it’s a good idea to research them and have the info in your back pocket to pull out once you start getting bottom-line pricing. Oftentimes the dealership will apply these rebates to get your bottom line price, so it’s good to know them beforehand as well as the price you’re expecting.
Just like dating, when it comes to dealerships you’re probably gonna kiss a lot of frogs. I did give most of them my cell number, but remained adamant about the majority of communication being done via email. Know in advance there will be some dealerships who simply refuse to do this. These dealerships don’t want you to have anything in writing for reference later. Can’t say it loud enough – DUMP THESE DEALERSHIPS. And if you don’t like the feeling you’re getting from a salesman, or feel they’re being rude or condescending, DUMP THEM. It’s totally your right.
Wait it out. Seriously. The more time you have, the better. After a month of working on it (a little under a week with this particular dealership), one Saturday evening my deal finally came. If you’ve done your homework and put the time in on your purchase, all I can say is you’ll know your deal when you see it. My stomach started doing little flips inside because I knew I couldn’t leave this one sitting. And, I had it all in writing.
I got a Ford Escape Titanium. It’s way more car than I ever expected, at far below the cost of others out there like it. A salesman at another dealership kept telling me I had to give up options to get a lower price. By then I knew what I wanted, and this left me feeling cheated. He would never give me a bottom-line price, either – just danced around it. So guess what? I dumped him. This baby is L-O-A-D-E-D. Leather, heated seats, auto-start, double moonroof, rearview camera, larger wheels, dual exhaust turbo-boosted, intelligent access display, premium Sony sound system – heck y’all, tons more I won’t bore you with. It’s more than I need for sure, but for the price… what would you do?
I’ve gotta give props to Keith Hawthorne Ford of Belmont, who went above and beyond to do what a lot of other dealerships loudly proclaim they wish to do – which is earn my business. Just like anything else in life though, words mean very little to me. Actions, however, mean everything.
And, there’s an unmatched satisfaction that comes from having to work for those extras. ☺️