Shopping for a new car, whether it’s a pre-owned vehicle or a “dealer fresh” new model, can be challenging on many levels. Not only do you have to wade through a large number of personal choices concerning vehicle make and model or color and options, you have to deal with the decision of which dealership to work with, finances, and even online sellers if that is your choice. To me it’s like Vinny Barberino answering a question posed by Mr. Kotter: “What, When, Where?”.
From a new purchase perspective, you never really know what type of experience you are going to have before, during, nor after the purchase. Once you step upon the playing field of the “new and shiny” beasts of desire, you run into the purveyor of vehicles, the Emperor of engines, the Maharajah of machinery and the often times dreaded: Car Salesman.
Now, from most people’s perspective, the terms “Snake Oil Salesman” and “Car Salesman” seem to go hand in hand. True or not, it’s hard to not want to wipe your hands on your pants after the first handshake. For you, this is the person who can make or break you in a deal. You’ve heard all the bad stories from family and friends and their bitterness has rubbed off on you. You have stepped onto their playing field with the thought in your mind that you have the upper hand and won’t allow THEM to talk you into a deal you don’t want or can’t afford.Well, there are two issues with that train of thought. First, any bad experiences your family and friends have had can be attributed to one person and one person alone: Themselves. You are the one who makes the final decision, signs the paperwork and agrees to the vehicle and terms of the contracts. Secondly, you are stepping onto their lot which means you are interested in one of their products. Thus, your interest does give them some leverage but it is overall not their fault someone agreed to a bad deal.
What is a bad deal? In the land where people overspend and believe in “credit, credit, credit”, it is up to you to determine beforehand how much you can afford with a car payment.From a Nissan/Infiniti perspective, everyone wants that 350Z for the price of a Sentra or a M45 Sport for the price of a used G35.In reality, you can’t and should not try to squeeze the more expensive automobile into your budget. Can it be done? Maybe. Should it be done? Absolutely not. You are the one who controls the purse strings and have the power of making an appropriate decision for yourself. Neither a dealership nor salesman can force you to buy anything. Do they want you to purchase the absolute maximum car that their financiers will allow? Of course! They are in the business to make money. Is it their fault you decided to buy the upgraded vehicle because a finance company allowed you to? No. It’s your fault for making improper decisions. Regardless of what you think you deserve, if you can’t afford it you should not purchase it.
When entering the battlefield, be aware that financial trend is against you.People purchase vehicles they can’t really afford all the time. Dealerships know this and it’s not their fault.In fact, some play to that by offering incentives or extended sales contracts. Years ago, the standard car loan was 5 years or 60 months. Today, you can get loans for 7 years in order to allow consumers to purchase above their “means”. Why buy that reasonable car at $350 a month for a 60 month contract when you can upgrade to a higher class vehicle at $400 a month with _only_ an 84 month contract? Make sense? Not really. Think depreciation, replacement cost, taxes, maintenance and insurance. All are higher and something that is often not considered when sitting across from a Finance Manager. You are also locked into a 7-year deal where it will take at least 5 years for the cars resale value to hopefully equal your loan payoff amount. Want to “trade up” before the value is equal or higher than the loan payoff?Then be prepared to write a check or finance MORE money over the value of the next car you intend to purchase. It simply does not make financial sense.Realize that dealerships and car salesmen are not your friends. They are out to make a buck and that is to be expected.It’s a business. I’m not saying they are all “above board” either as there are some who will intentionally step on the customer to make their commissions or sales quotas. If any see the chance of selling a $40k car to someone on a $30k budget, they will do it in a heartbeat. BUT, they can’t make you do something you don’t want to do. The overall decision is yours and yours alone.
The list of things to do before going to a dealership can be lengthy. The worse thing you can do is have a knee-jerk car buying experience where you simply drive up to a lot to look at the latest model and drive off with a new vehicle. Do your due-diligence first:Check online for any manufacturer’s incentives (rebates, low-APR) that are available without simply relying on the dealership to point them out.Go to the manufacturer’s website and build your vehicle to see the list cost of the vehicle and options.In a small market? Check prices in the nearest city to see if it would be worth the time and expense to purchase there instead.Check places like Kelly BlueBook to help determine depreciation valuesQuery online forums and perform searches for any issues and recalls that the vehicle may have and chat with owners of the model to get their perspective.Contact your insurance company to determine what insurance will runBased on vehicle cost, determine your yearly taxesTry to find out yearly maintenance estimates for the vehicle and the cost of owner-replaceable parts like tiresPull a credit report to see where you standMost important, create a home budget to determine what you can afford
Dealerships and salesmen are never the same.There is only one common aspect and that is the purchaser.It is up to you to wade through the process and the end result, be it good or bad, is all on your shoulders.Choose wisely and be prepared to go home with the same auto you drove to the dealership in.
Article by: Matthew Moody (NICOclub Administrator)