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Making a car purchase is an exciting moment, however, it can always be better. While it is often believed that it is difficult to further reduce the price of a generally well-established market, if you are smart about it, it’s likely that you’ll be able to sweeten the deal further. The sticker price isn’t the absolute last word, you may be surprised at how much you can save even when buying a new car, but there are also deals to be had in the used car market. Here are a few tips that can be applied to any vehicle purchase that can save you money.
1. Do your research
Arguably, the most important tip of all is research. Researching a product before making any big purchase is a rule that anyone would be prudent to abide by, and it’s no exception for cars especially used cars. Even if you’re ill-versed in the ‘car language’, skimming through reviews can provide a rough insight as to what to expect. But crucially, look for the specific model owner’s forum and study the known flaws and faults of your selection.
If your car is a popular choice, it’s likely that you may even be able to find a ‘used car buying guide’ online, and that can serve as a viable source of reference as well. Knowing the ins-and-outs and quirks of a certain model can point you towards the direction to look, and can serve as a leverage for you to drive the price point downwards. If there are repairs to be made, consider that in your negotiation process and assertively talk to the used car dealership. Researching the model can also inform you of the price range that you should expect, and if the price is too good to be true, approach with caution. Importantly, it also lets you know which trim and package of a certain model is to be avoided, so you can dodge a bullet down the line.
2. Check the dealership’s online reviews
Not only that, but you should approach car purchases holistically. The dealership plays a big role in the entire process, and it pays a dividend to thoroughly scrutinise the dealership beforehand. Looking for customer reviews online can be helpful here, but if you can ascertain what loaner’s network the dealership works with, you’ll know whether to give your business there or not. Then, you’ll want to shop around the shortlisted list of reliable dealers for the model you want and look for the best price from there.
3. Take advantage of the depreciation
Understand that used cars, even for a year or two, will be a much better value than it is when new, unless for very specific cases. Cars take a massive depreciation hit when it drives off the showroom, and the depreciation rate is at its steepest for the first year. Let others take the hit for you first.
Prices can vary wildly for different options of the same model, so ensure that you take the time to look around. In general, manual transmission, petrol engines and smaller capacity translates to a lower upfront price, possibly even during ownership. If you opt for a basic small car with a mundane combination, the insurance cost will be lower as well. Most importantly, you’ll want to research how much money the car ownership takes.
Buying a car isn’t a race, there is an optimum time to it. Take your time and discern what type of car do you need, and whether if the car will remain relevant a few years ahead. Some people are enthralled during the test drive and pull the trigger, but then just leave the car collecting dust after putting the money down.
4. Be ready to negotiate
Don’t grow attached to any car on the lot, bring a rational friend with you if needed. You have the upper hand here, dealers want to get rid of cars, and the buyers are the one that dictates whether if they can move their inventory. Haggle hard and bring rival dealers into the conversation, prepare to walk away if the deal isn’t satisfactory. If the dealer determines that you’re serious and genuine, they will call you back with a compromise.
Vitally, ensure that the car you’re about to buy isn’t a lemon. Give the car a thorough poke around, and test drive the car. If you want to be sure, get a pre-purchase inspection by a competent workshop. It’ll be worth the upfront cost, and pay off almost immediately. Major dealerships even used car dealers, may also offer a limited warranty that you should inquire about beforehand.
With these helpful tips, you can at least understand what’s going on and what you should do while looking to buy a car. It’s daunting on the surface, but the experience is quite rewarding, some may even say engrossing. While we, Garston Motors, is a dealership, the customers are those who support us, and they’re the ones that keep us in business after all. If you have any questions about used car purchase in general, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.
Ryan Yarbrough is a small business consultant, speaker, and the manager at Davis Financial Services, a small business consulting firm.