Alex Proud trimmer, saver, and negotiator. I like to pay what's fair not a penny more. Fighting this battle with a smile!

Don’t Buy A Car Without This Cheat Sheet

4 min read

car cheat sheet

A car is not a random commodity you purchase now and then. It requires a lot of money and planning. Since you have decided to buy a car, we’re assuming that you’ve done some research on which car you want to go with. You know how much you can spend on the new vehicle and the true market value (what your neighbors are paying for the same car) in your area.

Now that you are ready to buy a new car, follow these steps to bag a good deal, and make the car-buying process as smooth as butter. To help things make you more comfortable, you can take this cheat sheet with you to the dealership.

Before You Go to the Dealership

Plan your finances ahead of time to make the negotiation easier and stand a chance to get the best possible bang for your buck.

  • Check your credit score. If your credit score is above average, then you will get considerably lower interest rates. In case your credit score is lower, consider waiting until your score is good enough to be accepted by the finance bodies.
  • If everything seems good in the first place, apply for a pre-approved or pre-qualified auto loan.
  • As per your financial stability, select the lowest interest rate and the shortest loan period you can easily handle.
  • Make sure you call and verify if the car you are looking for is still for sale.
  • While calling, prescreen the dedicated salesperson: Does he or she answer your queries and seem knowledgeable?
  • Decide beforehand if you’ll want extras like an extended warranty, anti-theft devices, and paint protection. Keep in mind, these are high-profit margin items for the dealer, and you can always opt to buy them later.

Bring These Items

Plan and get ready with the right information and documents. Make sure you carry:

  • The actual market price of your selected car from Kelly Blue, or NADA (National Automobiles Dealers Association).
  • Detailed information about rebates, incentives, or any exclusive financial deals which might save you some money.
  • Proof of insurance and verification for your down payment (aim to pay 20% for a new car and 10% for a used car).
  • If you’re trading in the car’s title, extra keys, or loan documents.
  • Some snacks and a bottle of water in case the deal takes a long time to crack.

Arriving At The Dealership

The whole process initiates when you arrive at the dealership. A salesperson will greet you and urge you to a test drive. Afterward, be ready to feel the increased pressure to begin negotiations.

  • First thing first, evaluate the car, and also the salesperson.
  • Analyze if the salesperson: is knowledgeable. Efficient? Relaxed? Listening to your needs?
  • They will ask you for a credit check before the test drive. Don’t agree to them, just say you’re already preapproved for a loan.
  • They will contemplate you to name the monthly payment you want. Simply say to them, “I’m a cash buyer.”

On the Test Drive

The test drive will provide all the necessary answers to your doubts which will help you decide if this is the right car for you. Don’t overlook this step, and don’t fall into the trap of an aggressive sales pitch by a dedicated salesperson.

  • Tell the salesperson you need to check the compatibility of the car with at least 15 minutes’ worth of test drive.
  • Take the vehicle to a route that includes rough pavement, highways, hills, and tight corners.
  • Keep the cabin silent by turning off the radio and paying attention to braking, acceleration, seat comfort, and visibility.
  • Check the boot space and the second-row legroom, under-thigh support.
  • If you feel like your salesperson isn’t that cooperative, prefer to see a sales manager or just leave.
  • If you’re still doubtful about the car, don’t feel the pressure of buying it.

Negotiating the Price

This step comes only when you like the car’s performance and other necessary features and are quite comfortable with your salesperson. Now is the time for the real deal in the sales office. Keep calm and try to control your emotion and be ready to leave if you feel extra pressure or the pricing doesn’t line up with your research and expectation.

  • Ask the salesperson for a price instead of responding like: “Make me an offer!”
  • Compare the dealership price with NADA, Kelley Blue Book, or Edmunds.
  • Always start with a counteroffer of $1000 below the true market price.
  • Start your negotiation with: “My research shows the market price is …..” Or, “I already have offers from other dealerships that are considerably lower.”
  • If necessary, increase your offer by raising another $250 until you match the true market price.
  • If the salesperson says, “I’ll have a chat with my boss,” just let them know that your time is limited.
  • If there are too many hesitations and back-and-forth, prefer talking to the sales manager directly.

Closing the Deal

Before you say “yes,” and agree to all the terms and conditions, ask a few questions to make sure you are fully aware of what you agree to.

  • Ask for an “out the door” price and a breakup of fees.
  • Strictly question the fees (except documentation fee, registration cost, and sales tax).
  • Ask the dealer to remove any unwanted accessories such as alarms.
  • Take a picture of the deal sheet on your cell phone to use in the next step.

In the Finance Office

You are almost done! The last step process is to meet the finance and insurance manager, who will pitch warranties and extras. Verify that the terms and conditions you settled with the salesperson are included in the contract.

  • Say no to extras you might not need such as paint and fabric protection.
  • Skip the extended warranty pitch by saying, “I’ll trade in my car before the included factory warranty ends.”
  • If the finance manager offers you a much better loan rate than the pre-approved one, fill out a credit application.
  • To compare the loan offers, keep the loan tenure and down payment the same.
  • Review all the charges and prices in all the boxes and ask questions if you find anything unexpected.
  • If anything is missing from the car or it needs any repairs, make sure you get it in writing.
  • If everything seems right and favorable, sign and get your keys.

After a year or two, the insurance coverage is exhausted, and you have to pay the auto insurance separately. The amount depends on your previous track records, driving style, and other road safety guidelines. It might be possible that you have to pay a hefty insurance amount and that can disturb your monthly budget. It takes a lot of time and patience to negotiate with your insurance provider for a better deal.

Well, if you don’t want to handle this, BillTrim can do that for you. BillTrim, with the help of expert negotiators, will talk to your respective service provider and negotiate lower your bills. Not only insurance, but also negotiate cell phone, internet, cable, and energy bills. More than 300,000 customers are already saving $1+ million every month. Are You Next?

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Alex Proud trimmer, saver, and negotiator. I like to pay what's fair not a penny more. Fighting this battle with a smile!

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