5 Tips for Car Shopping like a Boss
Car shopping is exciting, overwhelming, and the biggest waste of a weekend. But alas, most of us need a car and so we travel to our local dealerships to hear balding men in ill fitting suits give us their best pitch. Apologies to all the non-sleazy salespeople wearing tailored suits who are now very offended.
I hate shopping in general. I find no joy in it. I’d rather watch a marathon of The O’Reilly Factor while listening to Tomi Lahren rants on repeat than spend a day shopping. Okay, maybe not, that was a bit extreme.
Here’s a few tips for your next car shopping excursion:
1. Don’t lease it
There’s a few significant reasons why you don’t want to lease a car. First, the insurance for a leased car is usually higher than for a purchased vehicle. Second, leases have mileage limits. If you go over, you’re going to pay up. Dealerships can also charge you more for extra wear and tear. Also, you will pay personal property tax on the leased car. In some states, if you purchase a car you may not have to pay personal property tax.
Finally, when you lease a car, you pay a certain amount for a fixed term and at the end, you have nothing to show for it. The initial downpayment and subsequent monthly payments might be slightly lower on a lease, but in the long run, a person who purchases a car will gain an asset. So whether you eventually sell or trade your car in toward the purchase of new vehicle, the car you own will be worth something. Its sale or trade-in value will lower the cost of ownership significantly more than if you leased.
Don’t get fleeced with a lease. Leasing a car is almost never a better option than buying. There’s math behind this, I promise. Here’s a good example.
2. If you want a luxury vehicle, buy a 2 year old used one
On average, a new car will depreciate 70% in the first four years. If you really want a nice car, I suggest purchasing a two year old certified pre-owned or used vehicle. Most of the depreciation will already be factored into the price and you could save yourself literally thousands of dollars on a vehicle that’s still in nearly new condition.
I’ll use my parents as a great example. My Mom really wanted a nicer car. She had her eyes on an Infiniti Q50. I told her to buy a 2 year old model. She ended up with a mint condition dealership “loaner vehicle” with only 12,000 miles on it. This whip still had that “new car smell”. Yes, I just used “whip,” I’ve been waiting for the right moment to work that word in. She bought it for half the price it retailed for just two years ago. Essentially she got a brand new car with a fifty percent discount.
Brand new cars are marked up so much it makes me want to vomit. Don’t fall for the dealership tricks!
3. Have an idea of what you want to buy
Do your research! Don’t go into a dealership without any direction or clue. Have your choices narrowed down. The more you know about prices for comparable cars at other dealerships, the more negotiating power you’ll have.
If you step into a dealership without having done your homework, you’re much more likely to get sweet talked into a sale that’s not ideal for you.
4. Don’t be afraid to walk away
Don’t get emotionally attached to a car. It’s a piece of metal that’ll lose its value about as fast as Ivanka Trump’s brand since November (Ed. note: Oh snap!). If you don’t feel you’re getting the best deal possible, walk away! Salespeople can smell your desperation. If they feel you’re close to caving, they’re going to push harder. Don’t fall for less than you deserve. Stay strong, walk away, find a new deal tomorrow. It’ll all be okay, except probably not for Ivanka’s clothing line.
5. Don’t go alone
There is power in numbers. This is especially true when you walk into a car dealership. You don’t have to walk in with an entourage like you’re Vincent Chase, but you also shouldn’t go alone. If you aren’t knowledgeable about cars, find a family member or friend who speaks the language. They can help you decipher a good set of wheels from bad, and they’ll be your second set of eyes and ears. A good car-buying buddy will help prevent you from making a potentially costly mistake.
BONUS TIP! Don’t buy an extended warranty. They are overpriced gambles and the only person benefiting is the salesperson who will earn a massive commission from it.
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