Buying a car from a dealer is one of the safest and easiest ways to buy a car. You know your car is mechanically sound, all the loan documents are handled for you and you have someone on hand to answer all your questions. That said, you do have to do your due diligence to make sure that you get a good deal when you buy from a dealership.

Here are a few tips to help make sure that you get a great deal when you step in the dealership.

Listen to the Explanations

Car dealers know the ins and outs of their cars. Walk into the dealership with an open mind. While you’ll have almost definitely done some research before going out on the lot, chances are there’s still a lot you can learn about the cars from listening to the dealership’s explanation.

There are all kinds of features on modern cars that most people don’t really understand. What is slip differential? What does a VTEC engine do? How do anti-locking breaks work? A good salesman will explain all these features to you in an easy to understand manner.

Try a Few Different Cars

One of the most important parts of buying a car is test driving the car. Test driving a car allows you to really get a feel for how the car handles. You’ll be able to see what it’s really like to own the car.

If you’re not sure of which car you want, don’t be in a hurry to decide too quickly. Try a few different cars. Test drive a few different models. Some cars you just feel an instant bond with, while others you might not.

Make an informed decision, not just from a logical perspective but from an experiential perspective by giving a few different cars a spin.

Take Your Time in Deciding

Don’t feel pressured to make a decision today if you’re not ready to make a decision.

Naturally, the person working with you will want to give you a good deal if you’re willing to drive of the lot with the car. Listen to their deals and weigh that against taking time to decide. If you’re really not ready to commit, say so. They’ll understand.

However, if you are ready to drive off the lot today with a car if the price is right, let them know that. They’ll bend over backwards to win your business, as they know you’re a serious buyer.

Negotiate from Invoice Up

Never negotiate from MSRP down. Don’t start at full price and go down to the price that you think is a good price. You don’t want to start high and try to get it lower. Instead, always start from what you know the invoice price is, then negotiate how much more than invoice you’re willing to pay. You can find the invoice price for any car online.

Check online to see how much over invoice people paid for different cars. Generally $300 to $900 over invoice is a good price.

Never Negotiate Monthly Payments

Always negotiate the price of your car first. Don’t negotiate based on monthly payments. Monthly payments can be adjusted any number of ways; but what really matters is your car price. That’s what determines if you get a good deal or not.

Negotiate the price of the car first. Then figure out what your interest rate is. If you get a good price on the car and a good interest rate, your monthly payments will naturally be low. If you need to adjust the terms, do it from there. You can always bring down your monthly payments by stretching out the loan terms. Always negotiate price first, not monthly payments.

Keep That Business Card

Your car salesman’s business card is a very valuable business card. If you ever have troubles with your car or ever have questions about your car, you can just give them a call and ask for help.

Car salespeople are more than happy to help out for free, for three simple reasons:

1.      Most people replace their cars about every four years. If you’re happy with their service, chances are you’ll come back to them.

2.      Most households have more than one car.

3.      If you’re happy with them, there’s a good chance you’ll refer your friends.

So it’s in their best interest to do everything they can do help you. Keep that business card and call your representative if you ever need help with anything.

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