12 First Time Car Buyer Tips

First Time Buyer

Buying your first car? You might be confused or nervous, but most of all you should be excited! Read our 1st Time Car Buyer Tips to help with some of those jitters and make you feel more confident at the dealership.

1. New or Used? This is a question you should answer before you get to the dealership. We have a whole article on the subject, which you can read here. Think it through carefully, and then stick to your guns. Don’t get talked into leaving in a new car if you think used is better for your needs.

2. Shop for What You Need.  It can be tempting to run right over to the cars with the big sale stickers, but a great deal doesn’t affect what you actually need in a car. If you have been envisioning a truck for your new job, a sale on small sedans should not affect your buying decision. Don’t let the salesman push you toward those cars. Stick to what you know you need. The same goes for flashy commercials or rebates.

3. Don’t Tell The Salesman What Color You Want. Your salesman knows you want to leave with a car. By telling him a superficial detail like your favorite color, you put more cards into his deck. Suddenly, all of the red cars on the lot are worth a lot more. A good rule might be to pick a few colors that you DON’T want and tell them about those.

4. The Salesman Doesn’t Prefer Cash. You might think that pulling out a wad of cash during the negotiation will get you a round of applause and a lower price. The truth is, the dealership makes money off of financing, which we will discuss in a bit. They want you to finance the car through them, not pay for it fully in cash. So don’t expect that to be a turning point in your negotiation.

5. Shop Around for Financing. Like we said, the dealership makes money from their financing department, but they are not your only option. The best place to go to check for better rates is a credit union. Generally speaking, credit unions offer better interest rates on loans. Go to a few of them and then bring your financing with you to the dealership.

6. Never Negotiate Based On Monthly Payments. Your salesman might start the negotiation with you by saying, “We can offer you monthly payments of xxx.” Stop them right there, and tell them how much you are willing to pay total for the car. It is much easier to get tricked into paying more when the deal is broken down monthly.

7. Your Biggest Power is Your Ability to Walk Away. We already mentioned that the salesman has some good cards in their deck. Your best card is that you can get up and leave the dealership whenever you want. That being said, don’t threaten to walk if you’re not really willing to leave. If the salesman calls your bluff and you stay, you’ve given your biggest power over to them.

8. Don’t Fall For Any Tricks. The stereotypical used car salesman may not exist at every dealership, but they are out there. One of the most classic tricks is the Bait and Switch. You might see a price online or on TV that sounds great, only to get to the dealership and find that the deal has expired, the cars have all been sold, etc. Now that you are in their showroom, the salesman will then offer you a much higher priced vehicle. Don’t fall into this trap!

9. Tell Them Upfront About Your Trade-In. Like having cash, some people think having a trade-in vehicle is like the ace in their hand. The truth is, the dealership will offer you the same price on your trade-in no matter what. It’s not going to change the price of the car. The only thing saving the news about your trade-in will do is cause a headache when the salesman has to redo all of the paperwork to include it.

10. Shop on the Last Day of the Month. The last day of the month, or even better the last day of the quarter, is the best day for car shopping. Car manufacturers actually set quotas for dealerships to meet each quarter. If this number of cars is sold, the salesmen get a bonus. Thus, as the end of the quarter approaches, the deals on cars get better and better.

11. Read Your Contract Carefully. If you are ready to buy, don't let the salesman rush you through the contract. Especially if you decide to finance through the dealership, read very carefully. Watch for extras that they may have slipped in, such as an extended warranty. If your car is newer, it may already qualify for a warranty through the dealer. If you do accidentally sign up for a warranty you don’t need, check your contract. You should have a few days to cancel it.

12. If You Feel Uncomfortable, Leave. A car is a huge purchase. If you feel uneasy at all, you can leave. Unless you have signed the contract, you can still change your mind. You may sign something before the contract, especially if you take a night to think about it. This form is called a Buyer’s Order, and it is NOT binding. Even if you have signed a buyer’s order, you can still unwind the deal.

After purchasing your first vehicle, make sure to insure it. For great rates on car insurance, visit our Auto Quote Page.

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