Archive for the ‘car buying tips’ Tag

When Is The Best Time To Buy A Car?

We’re down to the last two months of the year and soon the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day holidays will be upon us. In quick succession they will come and go, bringing us to a new year with a host of fresh possibilities and goals awaiting us.

One goal millions of American consumers would like to attain before the new year arrives is to purchase a new vehicle. There are more than 250 million registered passenger vehicles in the United States with an average age of 11.5 years according to IHS Automotive. That’s a long time to hang on to a car and for many people getting a new one has become a high priority, especially if their current ride is experiencing significant downtime.

The months of November and December provide very good opportunities for people to purchase a new vehicle. For one, the year-end sales rush is on and manufacturers such as Ford, Hyundai and Nissan have already announced incentives that may include some of the best deals of the year. For another, the 2016 models have arrived and dealerships are anxious to clear lots of 2015 inventory. If you do your homework carefully, you can slash thousands of dollars off the sticker price of some new models before incentives are taken. Yes, this could be the best time to buy a car, SUV or pickup truck.

There is some debate among experts about the best time to buy a car. Manufacturers and dealers usually insist, “right now!” — but that isn’t always the case. With an eye on the remaining weeks of the year ahead, the following dates, days and even times of the week may help you in your new car shopping decision.

Black Friday

The day after Thanksgiving is known as “Black Friday” or when merchants offer tantalizing deals to help kick off the Christmas shopping season. The day is so busy that malls are packed with customers from well before sunrise to late at night.

Pity the poor new cars salesperson who looks out at the traffic-choked roadway and observes potential customers whose minds are locked on getting a Christmas gift deal and nothing else. Few customers venture to dealer lots and that omission may cost them a big bargain.

In 2013, Consumer Reports surveyed the automotive landscape just days before Thanksgiving and found that a number of older, but still new models had discounts ranging from 15 to 25 percent off the sticker price. For example, that means a $40,000 full-size pickup truck might retail for as low as $30,000 if buyers were aware of the incentives.

Consumer Reports noted that Black Friday could be an especially beneficial day to shop as “dealers may even sweeten the deal further to clear their lots” and the day is also close to the end of the month as “dealers are more willing to negotiate to meet their quotas.” If Black Friday isn’t the best time to buy a new car, it certainly ranks as one of the top days.

Best Days of the Week

You may think that shopping for a new car on a weekend is the ideal time to buy. However, that usually isn’t the case unless it’s the end of the month and dealers are clamoring to meet their sales quota. Keep in mind that there’s no way to know if the dealership has met its quota. Don’t expect the salesman to greet you as you enter the showroom by saying, “Gee, we’re really glad you stopped by today. If we make a sale, we’ll meet our monthly quota!”

Monday may be the best day of the week to buy a car as most of the business has been conducted over the previous weekend. The lower the foot traffic, the more likely you’ll have increased negotiating power. This may be even more apparent in December when people are stepping up their Christmas shopping. For instance, if you shop on the Monday following the Thanksgiving weekend — also known as Cyber Monday — you may find showrooms are nearly empty.

At Year End

Some people think that December 31 is the best day to buy a new car, especially as the calendar year comes to a close. Although it can certainly be a good day, the first few days of the new year can be a good time to shop too. Why? Because those days are counted in the previous year’s totals.

Dealer’s work with what is known as a “U.S. Sales Reporting Calendar.” For 2015, the sales month and year cutoff is on Monday, Jan. 4, 2016. Many dealers are open on New Year’s Day and almost all will stay open late on Jan. 4, in a bid to get that final sale.

Dispelling Myths

Just as there is a best time to buy a new car there are some myths about timing your purchase that should be examined and dispelled.

For instance, some people believe that shopping for a new car on a rainy or snowy day is ideal for securing a bargain. On the contrary, many dealerships are packed with people whose plans were changed because of the foul weather.

Arriving at a dealership just as your sales associate is ready to leave for the day seems like a great way to snag a deal too. After all, she may have plans and is eager to get home. Don’t be fooled: sales people are used to working well beyond their scheduled hours in a bid to secure a deal. Besides, it is the sales manager who ultimately approves or nixes any deal.

Get Prepared

Now that you’re ready to buy a new car, visit the manufacturer’s website to identify the vehicle and trim level that interests you. Contact at least three dealerships to obtain quotes. Learn what incentives are available, which is information that is typically found on the manufacturer’s website. You can arrange financing on your own or do so through the dealership, but with the latter choice you may forfeit cash back in exchange for cut-rate financing.

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Car Buying Myths and Misconceptions

Our parents and friends give us a lot of great advice about life and (in some cases) about the best way to buy a car. But with all due respect to friends and family, some car buying advice is outdated — or just plain wrong.

After buying more than 100 cars for over the past 12 years, I’ve had a unique opportunity to watch the rise and fall of car-buying myths. I’ve also spent time on car lots testing much of the car-buying wisdom I see bandied about on the Web and in forums.

Sometimes I cringe when I read these tips because I know that if people follow them, something is likely to backfire. So often, people think they have a silver-bullet solution for getting a super-low price on a car, but they miss the bigger picture of the new car deal.

The flawed advice I read seems to fall into two categories. The first is the mistaken belief in a “gotcha” style of car buying, where the buyer is somehow going to turn the tables on a car salesperson. The second category is made up of car-buying myths and misconceptions. Some of these tips might have worked at one time, but they have outlived their usefulness. Other bits of “wisdom” were never true, but live on as myths that are about as useful as believing in the Tooth Fairy.

Many car-buying myths stem from the same assumption: Car salesmen are trying to screw you, so go ahead and screw them back. If you really believe a salesperson is trying to pull a fast one, walk away. Find a good dealership and a good salesperson who will work with you on a good, straight-up deal. There are good car sellers out there, and they want your business.

Of course, you still need to be informed. Edmunds has tools and features, including up-front, guaranteed pricing through Price Promise and True Market Value (TMV®) that make car shopping easier and more transparent than ever. Also, remember that your needs are very close to the salesperson’s goal. You want a car and salespeople want to sell you one. Find a comfortable middle ground and you’ll both be happy.

Here, then, is a collection of car-buying myths and dusty old tips you should dump:

1. Buy a car on a rainy day. The idea is that due to bad weather, no one will be on the car lot and the dealer will be desperate to move metal. One problem: Many people have heard this advice, which means the dealership is both wet and crowded. We recently ran this past a car salesman while both of us were standing in the rain. “Actually we’re really busy on rainy days,” he said. “Everyone thinks it’s going to be empty.”

Another variation of this myth is to go to a dealership just before it closes. Then, supposedly, the sales staff will agree to a lower price because they want to go home. In actuality, they’ll work well past closing time to finalize the deal. Here are some actual good times to buy a car.

2. Hide the trade-in until you finalize the price of a new car. Then spring it on the salesperson. Do you really think salespeople haven’t heard of this strategy before? And do you really think it will get you a better price? It doesn’t work.

The best tactic is to compartmentalize the deal. Know the price of your trade-in by using TMV to get its actual worth and get as close to that as possible. If you don’t like the offer for your trade-in, pursue other trade-in options.

3. Don’t reveal that you’re leasing until you negotiate the price of the new car. The assumption is that if you tip your hand early, a salesperson will snow you with leasing jargon and inflate the price of the car. One problem with that thinking: These days, lease specials abound, as shown on Edmunds’ Incentives and Rebates pages. The savings on these lease specials are better than you would get by just leasing a car based on a low purchase price.

Another way to get the straight scoop on a lease price is to solicit quotes from competing dealerships, as described in our article, “Quick Guide to Leasing a New Car.”

4. Be prepared to walk out. This is good advice for people who insist on shopping in person at a car lot. But it’s no longer good advice in the Internet age, mainly because we don’t recommend that you ever walk onto a dealership lot cold. Instead, use the Internet department and Price Promise for a hassle-free, low-cost shopping experience.

5. Read every word of the contract. If you follow this advice, you’ll be there all day. Besides, most sales contracts are boilerplate that’s regulated by the state’s motor vehicle registry. It’s not necessary to read all the words in the contract. However, it is absolutely essential to review all the numbers in the contract. For more on this, read “How To Review Your New Car Sales Contract.”

6. Call the sales manager, tell him you’re buying a car in an hour and demand his lowest price. The principle of this “game theory” approach is to pit dealerships against each other. Believe me, they are already well aware of the competition. Furthermore, this confrontational style is harder to pull off than you might think. Maybe it sounds fun to put the salesperson on the spot. But try it and see how far you get. Here’s a nonconfrontational approach to car buying that will get better results.

7. Bring a cashier’s check for exactly the amount you want to pay and say, “Take it or leave it.” We like to imagine how cool and invincible we would feel by doing this. But if you bring a check with a figure you cooked up, you won’t be leaving in a new car. Where did you come up with this price? Did you correctly add fees and taxes for all the options on a specific vehicle? How do you know the dealership wasn’t ready to give you a price lower than the one on your check?

It’s better to solicit Internet quotes, negotiate a good deal on an actual car, get a rundown of all the necessary fees and taxes and then bring a cashier’s check. It’s not a sexy power play, but it works. Better yet? Call or visit your local dealership for an exact quote.

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