I decided to purchase a new vehicle (nothing very expensive) back in November 2006 and I got a great deal. While I was shopping for my new car, I dealt with several dealers via e-mail and one dealer quoted the lowest price out of all the dealers. I negotiated an out-the-door price (taxes, dmv, everything). I set up an appointment with the Internet manager for Saturday. However, when I got there, he just passed me off to one of the salesman. I thought that was strange.
Anyways, I decided to test drive my specific car that I had picked out. It wasn’t on the lot but it was down the road in their storage area. I went with the salesman to drive it back from storage to the dealer so I could test drive it. As soon as I got there, I saw my car and it was all dusty and dirty. It looked like it had been driven through some dirt roads or something! So we brought it back to the dealer and I test drove it. Everything seemed fine except how dirty it was. After the test drive, we went back to the “negotiation room” at the dealership. The salesman was trying to negotiate a price with me even though I already had negotiated with the Internet manager. So I told him that I was already quoted an out-the-door price and had a copy of the e-mail in my pocket. I showed him the printed copy of the email with my quoted price and he took it and left for a few minutes. Several minutes later, another person who claimed to be the manager (he was actually another salesman who was trying to play good cop, bad cop) came. He said that my quoted price did not include destination charge and that they were going to have to add that onto my price. I did not budge and told him that the out-the-door price is the out-the-door price!
I was pretty mad at this point and told him that I didn’t have to talk to him and that I wanted to talk to the Internet manager (the one I already had negotiated with). He then left and said that he would have to talk to a manager (I thought he said he was the manager…). The original salesman then returned and said that they would accept the quoted price.
The salesman then brings a copy of the sales contract from the finance manager and shows it to me. The salesman then leads us to the finance manager who goes over the sales contract in detail with us. However, the final price ended up being about $50 higher than the quoted out-the-door price. Here they go again, trying to nickel and dime everything and trying to add hidden costs. It was a “doc fee” which you should be able to contest. I was exhausted at this point from several hours of negotiations and arguments from the rude sales staff and I didn’t feel like fighting it. Besides, I was happy with the price. So I signed everything and took delivery of the car that day since I already had my own financing.
So that’s my story of my “triumph” with the dealership. Here are my keys to getting a great deal on a new car:
1. Do your research. Make sure you know what the “invoice” prices are and the cost of different options. Go to websites like edmunds.com and research several models that you’re interested in.
2. Next pick a day to test drive your several vehicle choices. Make sure you let the salespeople know that you’re only there to test drive and not to buy. Next pick a vehicle that you’d like, but don’t fall in love with it (or at least don’t show it). Salespeople can key into that and you’ll be taken advantage of.
3. Next a quire your own financing if you’re going to finance (it’s better if you can put a big chunk as a down payment, or better yet, pay cash for your car). Go to your credit union or your bank and see if you can preapproved for a car loan along with the interest rate that they’ll give you. You should know the approximate price of the car that you’re interested in because of your previous research. You can also try Capital One Auto Finance or E-Loan Auto which offers “blank check” capabilities where they’ll approve you for an amount that you can write a check for when you purchase your vehicle at the dealer. That will start the loan. If you’re a Costco (they use Capital One) or Sam’s Club (they use E-Loan) member try going to their websites for auto finance as they will sometimes offer a better interest rate. When you get to the dealer, you won’t have to take their financing unless they can beat your interest rate that you already have.
4. Next go to about 3-4 dealerships’ websites and email them for an out-the-door quote on a specific model with certain options so that you’re comparing apples to apples (you can also fax them if you’d like). Make sure to tell them that you’re emailing several other dealers and that they’re competing for your business and the lowest quote will “win” your business. Make sure to write not to call you or just don’t put your phone number if you can. You want records of all your conversations so email is the best. That way you can bring a copy of the email like I did if they quote you a price.
5. If you have a trade-in, do not tell them when you’re getting quotes. You want to deal with each step separately so they don’t try and make up some profits in a different area. I would suggest that you don’t trade in your car to the dealer and that you try to sell it on your own. Also, make sure you know the approximate value of your car using Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds. You can list your car for free on a online classified list like Craigslist. I listed my car on there and sold in literally 3 days!
6. Now you can call the Internet manager, fleet manager or whoever you’ve been dealing with over email of the dealership that gives you the lowest price. Set up an appointment to see him or her and tell him or her that you’re interested in purchasing the vehicle you’ve been negotiating on. Make sure there’s one on the lot ready to go. Then go and pretty much sign the papers and go. If the deal is any different from what you’ve negotiated, pull out a copy of the email and show them. If it’s still different, walk out. There’s no point in dealing with people who want to take advantage of you.
Hopefully this has helped some of you who are thinking about buying a new car. Generally the best month to buy has been October when dealers try to sell the current year models to make way for next year’s models.
I wrote this story for the Get Rich Slowly Writing Project Contest. Make sure to visit this great blog!