Dealing with Car Dealers: Pros, Cons, Tips, Tactics
Last week we talked about how dealers typically work the car-selling process for new and used cars. This week, let’s talk about how you can work it.
You’re a seller, and it’s time to get rid of your three-year-old Volkswagen Golf. You want a new car and face the typical, sometimes wrenching, decision of whether to sell the car privately or trade it in. (If your car is more than four years old, sell it privately, since dealers don’t want older cars unless they are specialty vehicles.)
Selling a car privately can be a big pain: dealing with unknown, maybe untrustworthy, people; making yourself available at all hours; spending money to detail and advertise the car; etc. On the other hand a private sale, as we have said, will get you more money, sometimes a lot more.
If you are pressed for time or can’t take the aggravation, trading in your car may be a good choice. Sure, you’re only getting wholesale for your car, but you’re paying for the convenience of having the transaction done quickly with no legal responsibilities or problems, and by someone else. And there may be tax advantages when you buy the new car. You’ll find a good discussion of trading advantages here.
The most important thing to remember about trading your car in is that you are really conducting two separate deals. You negotiate the best price from your dealer on the new car first, and then talk about a trade. I got screwed once by agreeing to a great buy price, under the invoice, and essentially giving the dealer my trade for free.
Two other essential tactics you need to keep in mind whether you’re trading or not: Always investigate factory incentives and rebates (the best route to a good bottom-line deal). Some websites like this one will keep you current on incentives. And never, never tell a salesman what you’re willing to pay per month.
When setting up financing arrangements, there are two words to keep in mind: “shop around.” In the final, back-room negotiations, avoid the add-ons like credit life insurance and extended warranties and extras. Question everything.
Incidentally, used car prices are high right now; you might find a new car is a better deal. Leases are getting popular again, and for many buyers they make good sense.
An interesting article compares how women and men purchase things, including cars. Essentially, men focus on the transaction and the price, women on the value and the buying experience. It’s “buying” versus “shopping,” eating fast food versus a great restaurant meal. In buying a car, you’ve got to commit the time and involvement to get the deal right. It would seem men have much to learn from the female approach, particularly in the way we buy (and sell) cars.
We’re curious: Have any of the techniques described here worked for you?