Buying a car will likely be a person’s second to largest or largest purchase they will make in their lifetime. Given that fact, one certainly wants to perform due diligence before making this very big an important purchase. Starting at the dealership will most certainly not allow you to do this. Car dealerships have one main purpose: to sell cars; as many as possible. As such, they want to get you in their doors as soon as possible to make this happen. Car dealerships aren’t in the business of educating customers on their options, or even allowing you to take your time shopping/deciding. They want you in front of them as soon as possible to start working your emotions in order to get you to drive away in a car that day. Ever wonder why when you submit an online inquiry their first response is when can you come in for a test drive? Their plan is to get you in, take your keys (if you have a trade), show you a new car, let you test drive it, bring you back and offer some light refreshments, ask you to sign something saying “if we can make a deal today, will you drive off in your new car,” then play the back and forth with “I have to go see what my manager says.” Before you know it, you have been there 2, 3, 4 5, or 6 hours. They’ve worn you down and now you are at a disadvantage.
Here is what I recommend instead:
- Do your own research. Review manufacturers’ websites, talk to friends and family that may have cars you like and ask them about it, review online forums that cater to the vehicles you are interested in, read reviews, and go by dealerships when they are CLOSED to look at the cars they have in stock.
- Submit online inquiries when you have decided what vehicle(s) you are considering purchasing. In that inquiry, DO NOT include your phone number, only your email address. Make sure to ask for OTD or OTR pricing. Attempt to contact as many dealerships you can that have the vehicle(s) you are considering in stock.
- Play the offers off each other to get to the best price.
- Visit the dealer ONLY when you have in writing a final price (all fees etc. included) you are happy with.
- Go to the dealer to sign for your new vehicle.
Many people think and many dealers tell folks that you can’t negotiate price or trade ins remotely. This is FALSE. I do it every day. The more front end work you do, the more remote negotiating you do, the easier the car buying process will be.