Re: Car Buying Advice?
i've bought 3 cars in the last 5 years. edmunds is the gospel. read everything you can on that site.
go to the dealers and test drive any car you are considering. do not go in to see what kind of deal they can make you. you are there to do research, do a test drive, and that is it. once you've done the test drive, thank the salesperson and be on your way.
after you've done your research & test driving, it's time to use the power of technology in your favor.
email as many dealers as possible indicating that you are interested in a new car, and that one of the cars that you are considering is their ____________. give them the details of what you're interested in (model, colors, options, etc), and ask them to give you their best price. in their pricing, they should itemize any cost or fee, including tax, tag & title, so that you get a true price of what it will cost you to drive off the lot.
never ever ever tell the dealer what you would pay for the car. nor do you ever want to tell them what kind of monthly payment you want. you are just interested in their best price to drive the car off the lot. if they can make you the best deal, you'll be happy to go in and sign papers. until then, negotiating via email (and i'd set up a yahoo or hotmail account instead of using your regular account) is the best way for them to communicate with you.
as dealers start to email you with prices, you can use one dealer against another. let the other dealers know what the best offer on the table is, and ask if they can beat it. this is the part of the process that i personally like the most. make the sons-of-guns squirm and work and scrach and claw to get your business. if you're feeling ballsy, play a little poker. if someone bites, fine. if not, no real harm. you can go back to the next best deal and let them know that what appeared to be the best deal really wasn't.
once you have an offer that no one else can touch, then it's time to talk about financing. at this point, you've already talked to several financial institutions and have their best interest rates or lease terms. now that the dealer has committed to a price, put your best financing option on the table. if they can beat that, they can do the financing. if not, you're more than happy to go with your own financing.
having agreed via email on a car, price, and financing terms, then it's time to set a time to sign the papers & pick up the car. when you set the appointment, let the dealer know that you don't want to be paraded around in front of all of the employees and potential customers as someone who is buying a new car. you're there to sign the papers, get your car, and then continue on with your daily life. no clapping or cheering is necessary.
when you go, take copies of the emails with the agreed upon terms. review each document to make sure that the numbers & terms on the documents are what they should be. if they aren't, speak up before you sign anything. take a calculator with you. if you aren't comfortable with numbers, take someone who is. have that person (spouse/friend/relative/neighbor) stay with you while you sign the papers. if you're dropped off at the dealer, you're on your own & stuck there without a ride. if you have someone else there, it makes it more difficult for the dealer to try any last minute games.
don't worry about hurting anyone's feeling at the dealership. they're out there to make as much money as they can, and they'll take every opportunity they can to stick you. there are also a lot of folks involved in the transaction from the dealer side, so there's also a lot of room for things to get inadvertantly messed up. you're not there to make friends. you're there to get the best deal on the car that you want. it's purely a business transaction.
finally, remember that after you drive off the lot with your new car, the dealer still has obligations that they must fulfill. we got mrs. fan an '05 honda pilot back in mid-april. a series of gaffes at the dealer means that we still don't have the permanent tags for the car. lots of people at the dealer are getting lots of polite phone calls from yours truly.
remember that you as the buyer have the ultimate leverage. no one is going to put a gun to your head. no deal is final until you sign that it is final.