Buy a Car in the Internet Age
Board: Buying / Maintaining a Car
The times, they have a-changed.
Nowadays the key is using the internet to your advantage. I've bought two new cars about six years ago (yes, both my existing cars died at the same time) and this was my method:
1. Use Consumer's Reports, first, to determine what cars have great reliability and safety. You can't test-drive 50 different cars, so use this to pare down the selection based on what you need (truck, sedan, SUV).
2. Test drive three or four cars in your selected category to see what you want/like. Figure out what you can afford, of course. Don't give the salesman your personal info, just take a card and promise to call. If you give personal info they'll claim you as THEIRS should you ever buy there. You want flexibility.
3. Use Edmunds.com to determine the DEALER'S cost of that car, NOT the sticker price. Consumer's Reports will also sell you the invoice of any car. Sticker price is for suckers. You want "wholesale" cost. Also note the dealer kick-back (there's another name for it...) they get when they sell a new car. Even selling at invoice, the manufacturer will give them back several thousand dollars.
4. Most dealerships now have an "internet salesman" - you go through him rather than the guy who runs to meet you when you get to the lot. Ask for one by that name.
5. Get the phone number of every dealership within 200 miles that sells the brand you've chosen. How? Internet. Give them a one-week deadline, the wholesale price, tell them you'll buy from the guy who gets closest.
I have successfully used this technique. I wanted a new Honda Mini-Van. Figured out what options I wanted locally. Contacted Honda dealers within a 2 hour drive. Saved $1600 over the local guy's "best price" with a dealership in a small town about 90 miles away. Not only that, the small-town dealer had senior citizens who would drive his cars to our "big town" all the times for folks like me - he delivered it to my house like a pizza! I did the deal on my dining room table, handed them a check. Another dealer in a large town 90 miles north would have given me the same price, but they didn't deliver.
Don't be a sticker-sucker. Don't barter DOWN from sticker, find out what they paid and make them work hard to get a dollar more than that.
SG "Car dealers fear me" ;->