I read a lot of online articles about the car-buying experience and “how to beat the system.” Like almost any topic you can research online, some articles provide fairly decent advice, some are amusing and some are cringe-worthy. Given my time in the industry, I can pick out the cringe-worthy information pretty easily. Or maybe it’s because of the time I’ve spent doing this job that I find some of the advice out there so mortifying. In either case, one question always comes to mind:
How does someone who has never worked in this business know what advice to follow?
The not-so-great new is, you don’t. The better news is you already have the tools you need. You just may not realize it.
Be levelheaded about your purchase. Buying on emotion is often what later generates buyer’s remorse. It’s one thing to grab a candy bar at the grocery store checkout counter and regret the calories after you’ve scarfed it down. It’s a whole other story when you fall in love with and sign a contract on a vehicle that doesn’t adapt to your lifestyle.
Don’t make assumptions. What’s the old saying? One bad apple spoils the bunch? I suppose that’s the case with just about anything, but it’s certainly true of car sales and finance people. More times than not I’ve known people who walk into a dealership already on the defense, sure that they are about to get hosed. Remember, it’s their JOB to try to upsell you, so if they’re not offering you something, they’re not doing their job. And yes, they are there to make money. (Don’t we all go to work to make money?) That doesn’t mean you have to buy what they’re selling. There is a difference between selling and being pushy. If you feel uncomfortable or as if the sales/finance person isn’t listening to you, you do have the right to either request someone different to work with or you can walk away altogether.
If you’re going to use the buddy system, make sure your buddy is working for you. A lot of people recommend you take someone with you. While not a bad idea, it can work against you. For example, if you’re still out on the lot looking at vehicles and your “buddy” is inside signing a credit app because she found something she “just can’t live without,” well you just may have brought the wrong buddy. If, however, your buddy pulls you back down to earth when you’re ready to jump on board with a payment that’s twice what you can afford…now that’s a buddy worth taking along!
I’m not suggesting that online research before you go to the dealership isn’t still a good idea. In fact, not only would I research the vehicle, I’d apply for financing online before I went for two reasons: (1) to know what rate I can get, and (2) to save time once I got there. At some point though, going to the dealership is inevitable. And truly not as scary as it seems.