This is a very interesting subject because, at the current time, I am looking for a car. Of course, there are two primary ‘driving forces’ when shopping for that right car: Price and long-term affordability. Both of these items relate to what you can afford on a monthly basis assuming you are not “Donald Trump” rich at the moment. I would like to share my recent experiences along with providing some insight on what to look for. This blog post will summarize two articles: One in the Huffington Post (HuffPost) and the other from the L.A. Times.

Secret #1: The days of haggling your price point are over

In the HuffPost article, it mentions to “Buy at or below Invoice Price” and to “Try Negotiating by Email”. Dealers have gotten smart over the last few years and tell their customers that their prices are below Bluebook prices. Since most sale prices are below invoice and Bluebook pricing, the customer cannot come in with a lower number expecting the deal of a lifetime. The customer’s negotiating power is now limited and you are stuck with the price they advertise. My advice for new car shoppers is to thoroughly research the internet for the price point and only go to those dealers that have the price you can afford.

Secret #2: Push for going to a local credit union or bank that links directly to your paycheck

This allows new buyers to take out smaller payment amounts from their paychecks to pay for the car rather than to labor to pay one monthly bill. That way, you hardly notice the amount being taken out of your monthly budget. Eventually, you will get that raise at work and hardly notice the car payments being deducted. Think of it as part of a retirement benefit from your work.

Secret #3: Get pre-approved for an auto loan to know where you stand

The HuffPost article does a good job explaining this and states that a new buyer can come into the dealership and focus on the sale price rather than the monthly payment since the pre-approval has already been done and the monthly payments have been set. This is very sound advice!

Secret #4: Look for cars that have been sitting on the dealer’s lot for a long time

Both articles mention this and I agree 100%. The salesperson will be more motivated to sell you the car and give you the options you want and will work harder to get you the best terms rather than for a car that has not been on their lot for a long time. The buyer holds most of the chips in the deal.

Secret #5: Online discounts are not worthy, IMHO

The L.A. Times article advises looking for online discounts. While this may sound like a good idea, there is really no benefit as most of the discounts are for an amount off of the MSRP which is not a true indicator of the actual sales price. Do not waste your time looking for discounts.

Secret #6: Visit Dealers Often

This advice will only help the car buying experience all of the questions that a salesperson will ask you. I agree that this is good advice to confirm the typical price point that is available for the car you want to buy. I would not recommend visiting dealers for the sake of trying to haggle your price point.

Secret #7: Go back to the dealer later or sign-up for price alerts

If there is a car you really want but the dealer has set their prices (which is usually the case), you may want to keep price alerts for that same car on your smartphone so when the price drops, you can visit the dealership and continue the negotiation. Also, you may want to visit the dealership near the end of the year as there is a push to sell the older models in preparation for the new year’s models. The L.A. Times article is on point for this secret.

There are many other considerations upon shopping for a car that is not mentioned. I hope that these secrets aid you in your car shopping experience as it has in mine!

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