How to buy a car

How to buy a car: Top ten tricks and tips to get a great deal

Purchasing a car is a big deal and an experience everyone is likely to make several times. If you are poised to buy your first car or your tenth car, you might not be aware of some very simple tricks and tips to get the best deal.

Unfortunately, car sales people have had a notoriously bad reputation for taking advantage of people or being deceptive. The good news is that things have changed, largely in part due to the vast amount of information you can guard yourself with online.

So, if you are at the point of needing to buy a car, here are the top ten tricks and tips to get a great deal.

Your best weapon to use when purchasing your next car is to research. Knowledge is power and power will get you a smoking deal. The beauty of the internet these days is you can find out exactly what a car is worth before you even drive onto the lot.

Now, when purchasing a new car, you want to focus on the “invoice” price and not the MSRP. The “invoice” price is what the dealer paid the manufacturer of the vehicle. This becomes a great weapon when negotiating begins.

However, if you are going the used car route, you have other considerations to make. You want to look for current resale value (making sure you are entering all the exact details of the make, model and features of the vehicle.) If you have a trade-in, be sure you know the value of that car as well.

Some of the best places to research are:

Financing Options
Don’t make the mistake of assuming the dealership has the best financing options. They might, but they might also have much higher interest rates. You want to research all your financing options before stepping foot onto the lot. You want to get pre-approved so the financing is of no hassle.

Keep in mind that many dealerships offer incentives for buying brand new. In this case, you might actually find zero percent interest on a brand new buy.

Online, try websites like They can research multiple options for you at once. Don’t forget about your local credit union as well. They often offer some of the best auto loan financing options.

Don’t ever be afraid to walk out
A well laid out plan leaves every opportunity for you to walk out the door. And, you should try it sometime because often the sales person will run after you and truly give you a rock bottom price.

Negotiate like a pro
Buying a car is a huge investment and of course can be super stressful, especially when it comes to the negotiation. When you are ready to talk price, keep these pro tips in mind:

  • Walk in with confidence.
  • Try making a low ball offer and then work your way backwards.
  • Keep your loan term as low as possible. They might  offer you a great monthly rate, but if the loan is 60 months or more, it’s really not a great deal.
  • Skip ALL the extras. Do not opt for gap insurance, rustproofing, fabric protection, etc. It’s all a rip off.
  • Pretend this is no big deal, keep your emotions quiet and leave the table if necessary. Remember, you are in control.

Purchase price over monthly payments
A huge mistake car buyers make is just getting into a comfortable monthly payment. Especially because many try to hide this payment into a super long term loan. Keep your loan under 5 years long and be extremely wary of any additional costs. You should know the full purchase price up front.

Keep your trade-in a secret
One of the first questions a sales person will ask you is if you have a trade-in. At first, always say ‘no.’ They can use your trade-in information against you during the negotiation process.

Don’t forget about car insurance
You must have car insurance, so be sure you factor in that cost with the price of your vehicle. You can get quotes ahead of time so you are not surprised with the price.

Forgo the extended warranty
A wasted expense is opting for the extended warranty. Often times the extended warranty is costly and very limiting. Most new cars come with a manufacturer warranty that should suffice.

Also, adding the extended warranty into your financing is a huge mistake. The cost of the warranty plus your interest rate will cost you big time.

Visit the mechanic
You can take some of the uncertainty out of the car buying process when purchasing a used vehicle by taking the car to your local mechanic. You can do this before your purchase is finalized. This not only can ease your mind, but should there be any mechanical issues, it can only help your negotiating efforts.

Jumping the gun on a car purchase is never a good idea. You should never enter a car lot without researching, planning and being confident with what you want. You WANT to shop around, walk away from deals and take control of your purchase.

Final Thoughts
The bottom line is that YOU are in control. Don’t ever be afraid to walk out because there is always another dealer, another deal and another day. The most prepared people get the best deals and you can too.