You would thinking finding the right car is the first step, but it is not. Whether you are buying a used or new car, you should focus on how much you can afford. Even this may seem vague as one could take a loan from a bank and extend the term long enough to have low monthly payments. Instead, a buyer should focus on the total cost of the car.
Once you have decided the amount, then you need to decide if you want used, new, certified, coupe, sedan, SUV, minivan, car or truck? You can allow yourself choices and this in turn, will give you bargaining power. Also one has to consider if you have a trade-in, and if you do, how much will the dealership give you? How much can you get for it if you sell your used car or truck privately? A good rule to remember when you are negotiating, is be able to walk away from the deal. If the seller knows you really want it, they can use that against you in their offers and counter-offers.
So now you have chosen a car and you are ready to negotiate. Remember the vehicle sale price not the monthly payments is your first battle. Car sales people do this every day and it is almost a routine for them. They will try their best, they have to check with their boss, they need a bigger down- payment, a co-signer, will you accept lower for your trade-in – it is a game and they are good at it. Be good at yours. Set the highest price in your head and don’t share it with anyone. The car salesperson is not on your side. He wants the most he can get from you and your wallet.
Be prepared. Study up on service contracts, warranties, financing, and insurance costs. Get a quote from your insurance company before you buy. Sometime new car purchases come with manufacturer’s incentives. You want to maximize your savings.
If you are buying used, you can go to car sites such as carsandtrucksondemand.com and other similar used car websites and use their advance search features to find a selection of cars in your price range. My advice here is actually going to more than one site and shopping used cars. Next, getting in touch with a private seller or dealer is as easy as a phone call. Because new cars lose so much of their value in the first few months, a used car can appeal to a buyer.
With used cars, you need to be a little more cautious. Are you test driving the used car before you buy? Are you getting a mechanic to inspect them before you purchase? You should open the hood, crawl under the car and look or bring it to a garage and put it up on a hoist. Check the oil. Check coolant and radiator for leaks or corrosion. Test drive the car both in the city and also on the highway for handling and acceleration. Test the brakes, the steering and alignment. After the drive, open the hood again and look for leaks. Do you have a list of questions prepared to ask the seller?
1. Why are they selling the vehicle?
2. How many miles/kilometers are on the vehicle?
3. What condition is the vehicle in? Ask about structural, mechanical, accidents, history of the car.
4. If the used car was involved in an accident, you need to know how much damage was done, what exactly was repaired, who did the repairs, etc. Vehicles with accidents are worth much less than accident free vehicles.
5. Are the service records up-to-date? This will give you an opinion of what type of car owner the seller is.