A Brave New Bargain: Car Buying Tips for Frugalists

The thought of dropping thousands when buying a car is enough to make most penny pinchers break out into a cold sweat. To purchase a vehicle at bottom of the barrel prices takes thorough research and economical craft. Once you're equipped with your figurative tool belt chock full of money-saving techniques, you'll be ready to bargain at the car dealership cold sweat-free.

Buy a car

Research Financing and the Car

If financial struggles are inhibiting you from purchasing a vehicle, consider a buy here pay here car; the would-be owner makes payments at the dealership, although some dealers no longer hold their customers to in-store payments only. Some buy here pay here lots offer warranties, pre-purchase inspection and even hassle-free return policies.

Sites like Edmunds.com allow people to research thousands of vehicles, read customer reviews, see prices, view multiple photographs, obtain vehicle history reports and more. Once you have your eyes set on particular vehicles, become an expert on their specs, and use these details to persuasively negotiate.

Request referrals from friends and family. According to GoDriveMag.com, the essential things to take on car-buying day are: a valid driver's license, proof of insurance, a checkbook, title or loan documentation and a full stomach. Ask questions at the dealership so you're well informed about your purchase.

“You can have a deal lined up before you even go into the dealer,” Alec Gutierrez, Kelley Blue Book senior automotive market analyst, tells The Times. “That is a channel that a lot of consumers miss out on.”

Smartphone Negotiator

Kelley Blue Book, Cars.com and Edmunds.com are the ideal trio of apps for car negotiation. NYTimes.com especially recommends Edmunds.com for its True Market Value feature. This isn't the same as the MSRP. It lists a particular model's average selling price in a specified region adjusted for options. This app provides advantageous leverage when negotiating that no car buyer should be without. Edmund's True Cost-to-Own feature calculates whether a buyer can afford a car over five years by estimating gas, maintenance, taxes and insurance costs.

The innovative company shows what other buyers paid for particular car models and estimates the dealer's true cost. With this information at your disposal, how can auto dealers fight back?

Three More Tips

Slow and Steady: Absolutely avoid any impulse buying. Don't allow the salesman to see your eagerness to buy a car. Mask your every word and emotion in wariness so you're not taken advantage of. Never shy away from walking away if you're not ready.

Insurance: Contact your insurance agent before writing your John Hancock on any sales contract. Verify that the insurance premium won't push the cost above your budget.

Tag Team: Take your spouse or a friend with you. It's less likely that dealers will engage in disingenuous manipulation with a partner by your side, even if he or she isn't the one buying.

Warranty Watch Out: Be aware that some auto dealerships make a good chunk of their profits from selling unnecessary secondary extended warranties. Compare the dealership's warranty against the manufacturer's warranty to ensure the former doesn't overlap the latter.

2 thoughts on “A Brave New Bargain: Car Buying Tips for Frugalists”

  1. Looking out for insurance rates on your car is crucial. I bought a 2004 Toyota a while back and am paying through the roof for insuring it. Had I checked out the rates prior to buying, I probably would have passed 🙂

  2. Mike@WeOnlyDoThisOnce

    Your point about going with someone else is key. The difference between two trips I took, one with and one without, was enormous. The salesman was literally a changed man.

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