When you're in the market for a new used car, you look forward to choosing a make and model that you like and driving away from the lot in a car that's an improvement over the one you currently have. What you probably don't look forward to is the part in-between choosing the car and driving away in it – the negotiating. In fact, in one survey, 62% of respondents ranked negotiating as the worst part of buying a car. There are ways that you can make the process easier on yourself, though. Take a look at a few smart negotiating strategies that can help you get an affordable used car with less hassle.
Timing is Everything
The time of the month, and the time of the year, when you make your purchase matters more than you might think. Saving your negotiations for the end of the month may give you an advantage – if the dealership hasn't met their sales goals for the month, they'll be willing to bend more in order to make the sale. If you can wait, or if you happen to be shopping in March, June, September or December, you may be even better positioned to make a great deal – the sales goals at the end of the quarter are often even more pressing than the ones at the end of the month.
You don't necessarily have to buy your car on the last possible day of the month, either – the last weekend of the month or somewhere in the last few days should be just as good. In some cases, it may even be better to buy before the last minute – if the dealership has already met their sales goal by the 30th or 31st, they'll be less likely to make a deal. If you buy the weekend before the last day of the month, there's a good chance the salespeople are making their final push to hit their goals, but aren't quite there yet. This is the time to make your move.
Do Your Research
Before you start any negotiations, you need to do some research on the car that you want to buy. You should spend some time visiting different dealerships, in person or online, to find out what's available. When you settle on a vehicle that you like, look up the blue book value and do some price comparisons before walking into a dealership to negotiate. Let the salespeople know that you know what the car you're haggling over is worth.
You should also do some research into your own finances, starting with your credit score. When the dealer runs your credit, they don't have to tell you what your credit score was, just what kind of auto financing you'll qualify for. If you know your own credit score, you'll have a better idea of what kind of interest rate and financing you should qualify for, and you can walk if the dealer won't give you the financing that your credit should qualify you for. Remember that you can get a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months from each of the three major credit bureaus.
Have Some Backup Requests
What if you really want the car but can't get the dealer to come down far enough? You may be able to make some requests that will get you more value for the additional money you'll be paying.
Ask the dealer if they'll throw in a better stereo system, new tires, rust-proofing, or a more comprehensive warranty – something that you really want or need for the car. Many times, the dealer will be willing to add on extras like these to close the deal if you can't come together on the price.
Negotiating may not be the most fun part of buying a car, but it doesn't have to be a nightmare either. Go in prepared, armed with information, and with a strategy in mind, and you'll be able to leave with a car that you want and can afford.
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