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My Tips to Getting a Great Car Deal!

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My Tips to Getting a Great Car Deal!

So, you are in the market for a new car. It is very, very important that you are very careful. We must be prepared with knowledge when car shopping so that you are just as HAPPY with your purchase after the dealer as you are when you are test driving. These tips are from my own experience in wheeling and dealing. We have had multiple experiences in our life, 25 vehicles that I can think of, and I may be forgetting a few. It’s sad, I know, but I am sharing what we have learned to hopefully help some people not make the mistakes that we have made. So, here are some key points that we now follow to a tee.

(1) What kind of car do you want to purchase?

In our experience, if you don’t have some kind of idea what automobile you want, you can be swayed into anything, and anything may not be the car/truck that makes you happy after you drive off of the lot.

We generally have a pretty good idea what we want. Sometimes we can be hasty, as we did in the most recent purchase, luckily we were not too hasty. My husband owned a Mazda 3 and we recieved a call from the dealer that we could easily trade up to a newer model of a Mazda 3 with a better interest rate and a lower payment without extending the terms. THIS intrigued us. SO, we loaded up the car and headed for Beverly… well, the car dealer that is. πŸ™‚ On the one hour drive there, we talked about the Mazda 3. The one thing that intrigued us about trading was the pure fact that the Mazda we had needed tires again and it only had 40,000 miles. Now, this is normally not an uncommon event, however, we had already replaced the tires at 18,000 miles. Due to a design flaw, the tires on the Mazda 3 wear funny and need replaced frequently, unless of course, you can withstand abnormally loud road noise. We can not. So, given this fact, we decided to look at a Mazda 6 IF they did not have the same issue.

(2) Be able to stand your ground for what YOU want.

This is SO important! If you can not come to terms on the features on the car, the price of the car, the price of your trade in, stand your ground until you find a car that you LOVE everything about it.

Same car, continuation of the story above. We arrive, the salesman greets us and sits us down to discuss what we are looking for. So, we say, “Well, we like the Mazda we have, it is fully loaded, but if we can unload it for a good deal on a like car that doesn’t need tires every 15,000 miles, we would trade.” The salesman says that he has not heard that complaint at all on the Mazda 3. WHICH I really BIT my tongue, because he sold us this car and he was most certainly the person that assisted us in getting dealer cost on the early replacement of our tires. So, he had heard of one complaint before, OURS! He continued on defending the Mazda 3. I have been to enough dealerships and given the run around, spending HOURS in their showroom, that I don’t want to waste any more of my life at a dealer. SO, at this point, I sternly interrupted him and said, “It doesn’t matter what the truth is about the Mazda 3 and tires. If we can’t make a deal, we will continue driving this car. We are not interested in a Mazda 3 because we have been advised by YOUR mechanic that there is a design flaw on the 3 that causes early deterioration of the tires. That is really the end of the Mazda 3 conversation. If you would like to continue this conversation, let’s move on to a different car. We would like to look at the Mazda 6, considering it does not have the same tire problem.” When you remember that these guys generally work off of commissions, being stern let’s them know, you are 2 steps from walking away. He quickly changed gears and we test drove a Mazda 6. Nice car, lots of additional options, but the seats were far from comfortable. And I don’t know about you, but I sit in my seats a lot when I drive/ride in my car, so this was an important feature to us. We return from the drive, the salesman asks, “What did you think?” And, remember, I’m not interested in beating around the bush, so honestly, “The car was nice, but the seats were way too uncomfortable.” And he asked, “Do you want to go sit in it again?” My thought at this point was WHAT? I asked him, “Why, did you change out the seats in the last five minutes with more comfortable ones? Because we thought those were awful.” Again, defensive salesman appears, “Let’s go sit in it again and maybe you will think differently.” Really? Wow, that is insane. So I replied, “I’m pretty sure my butt doesn’t need a second opinion, they sucked.” I personally thought this was quite to the point and the salesman should move on. Apparently I was wrong as the salesman again asked if we wanted to go sit in the car again and “What monthly payment would put us in the 6.” Ok, time for the smack down, “Ok, I am just going to lay it on the line. If the Mazda 6 payment on the 6 was free, I am still going to grype every single time I get into the car about how I hate the seats and how they make my butt hurt. Simply, I am not interested in the 6.” Yea, so maybe I didn’t use the word “grype” or “butt” in this comment, but you get the picture and finally the salesman did too, he started looking at other cars.

(3) What the market price is for the car you are looking at. And if you have a trade in, what your payoff amount is and what your trade in should be around.

If you simply go into the dealership and tell them your monthly payment amount needs, they will give you an offer with a monthly payment amount that is anywhere from $50-100 over what you indicate, with $5,000.00 down and at any terms that they can get to achieve that payment amount. They are out for commission, their concern is simply not with your financial situation. That is up to you friend, so know it.

We look at Kelly Blue Book for retail of the car we want and note that for the next step. We then look up the wholesale, retail and trade in of our car we are looking to trade. You have to know the range of these numbers because the dealer is not going to finalize a deal that loses them money. If you owe $10,000.00 on your car and retail is $5,000.00, wholesale (what the dealer would pay cash for a car at auction) is $3,000.00 and trade in is $4,000.00, you need to be in ready for the conversation about how “upside down” you are in your car. Meaning that you owe way more than what it is worth. Not uncommon, as soon as you drive off of the lot, your car you just paid $10,000.00 for will automatically reduce down to trade in amounts for worth. We generally cut them off at the pass and say, “Yes, we trade often, we owe way more than it is worth, save the lecture, just tell us your offer.” You must know the range of your car – in the above, if they offer you $1,000.00 for trade in, you know you have some negotiating power. If they offer you $4,500.00 for trade, you know you are getting a good trade. Knowledge is power my friends.

(4) What kind of loan rates your preferred bank or credit union can provide.

Most banks and credit unions have loan calculators, if not, Google loan calculators or download one for your iPhone or Droid, there are tons of apps out there. Run the scenarios, example:

Payoff on the car you will trade: $10,000.00
Car you own’s trade in value: $8,000.00
Negative equity: $2,000.00.
Purchase price of the car you want to buy: $20,000.00
Purchase price of the car PLUS the negative equity: $22,000.00
If you know the tax rate, that is great, we generally figure 9% tax. You only pay tax, in Illinois that is, for the difference between retail of the new car and value of the trade in. In this instance, 9% tax on $12,000.00
Purchase price of the car you want to buy: $20,000.00
MINUS
Car you own’s trade in value: $8,000.00
= $12,000.00
$12,000.00 MULTIPLY 9% = $1,080.00
And add in about a $1,000.00 for title, license, and doc fee.
So, you need to figure your loan amount to be:
Purchase price of the car you want to buy: $20,000.00
+ Negative equity: $2,000.00
+ Estimated Taxes: $1,080.00
+ Estimated Title, License, Doc fee: $1,000.00
Loan Amount with no down payment: $24,080.00

Now run the scenario against what your bank terms will be.

You should also look at the financing offers offered by the manufacturer if you are planning on purchasing a brand new car. Run their terms in the calculator and see if it is better than your financial institution. Then, it is a must that you go and confirm with your institution that if you are successful of getting a deal that matches these figures that you will be able to secure the funding from them. πŸ™‚ Pre-approval helps to keep you from falling in love with your dream car, only to find out that you can not obtain the financing. 😦

(5) What your budget is, what payment you can afford AND what kind of down payment you can afford – if you want to put one down. This goes hand in with the step above. Is this a payment you can afford? Are you comfortable with the payment? If not, look at why you want to trade- if there are problems with it, like a transmission issue, what is the total cost to bring it to the level you would be happy to keep it. Weigh those two together and determine what the best decision is for you.

One thing that we have not added into the equation is a down payment. Typically we do not put money down on a car. Cars do not hold their value plain and simple. We would rather put that money towards real estate and make improvements in our home that would increase it’s value instead. Dealerships want you to put money down to help get you better financing, thereby increasing the chances that you will take the deal. BUT the question is, is it the right thing for you to do? If not, stand firm and tell them “No money down”.

(6) Document….

Keep track of all the scenarios from above. Know your information, keep it handy to reference when they bring the offer to you. Don’t get blinded by the shiny brilliance of your proposed new car that you find yourself blinded by debt later.

(7) Ask questions and take time to think about it!

Many dealerships will offer maintenance deals. Whether it is free oil changes, reduced prices on services, etc. Get this information and compare it to what you are currently paying. My husband will make a complete spreadsheet. When the gas prices started to sky rocket oh so many years ago, we had a Dodge Ram and a Dodge Durango, both out of warranty. Not really the picture of excellent gas mileage at 11 mpg and 17 mpg respectively, increasing out gas budget to an unacceptable amount. I had driven the Honda Accord of one of my co-workers on many occasions and it always drove as if it were a brand new car – smooth and quiet. And they got excellent gas mileage. We wanted to look at something all wheel drive or 4 wheel drive to replace one of the vehicles because we lived in the middle of the country, so that was very important during Central Illinois winters.

We went out one Saturday morning set to trade both vehicles to more economical replacements. We got our two top picks, from two different dealerships and went to lunch at a local Dairy Queen with free internet/computer access and re ran our numbers looking at the Jeep Liberty trade in, etc. We knew we wanted the Honda, but weren’t sure about the trade for the Ram. The numbers were supported utilizing financing from the dealerships, they beat our financial institutions.

Dodge Ram traded for a gently used Jeep Liberty – 11 mpg vs 17 mpg, 4 wheel drive, gap insurance, extended warranty, family friendly, ability to pull a trailer. Payment? Reduced $20 per month, gas savings, note worthy.

Dodge Durango traded for a new Honda Accord – 16 mpg vs 33 mpg, comfortable ride, fully loaded, free oil changes for the first 36,000 miles, increased payment of only $25.00 a month utilizing Honda finance terms, adding gap insurance and extended warranty. Gas savings? PHENOMENAL! It was a learning curve parking such a small car from the big Durango. πŸ™‚

We were far better off than we were that morning. We had reduced maintenance prices, warranty, reduced monthly car payments. The pre-work paid off.

I hope you have the best dealership experience from here on out! πŸ™‚ Did I forget something? Have you learned a trick or two? Leave it in the comments so that others can be in the know! I am always looking for tips on this subject! πŸ™‚

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