I am not fond of shopping for a vehicle. Although I worked in the car business for seven years and manage a sales team today, I'm still not overjoyed to go haggle for a car. Maybe it's because I know what goes on behind the scenes on the other side of the table since, well, I'm there daily manuevering deals with my sales team. But, knowledge is power, and it's equipped me with some skills when it comes time to purchase a car.
My car, which I previously reported was having issues, died again a month or so ago. After putting as much money into this car for repairs that would have made a nice down payment, and my Dad's wise words, "I think it may be time for a new car" I decided to bite the bullet. My plan was to begin looking about six months from now. I first had to buy a new laptop (why does it seem everything big konks out at once?) because I use my home laptop for work and needed to save to pay that first, then save for the car down payment. A marvelous blessing came out of nowhere - my Stepmom graciously and unexpectedly wanted to pay for my computer. I cannot put into words what a huge blessing that was for me. Beyond taking care of that cost, the money I'd saved could now be used towards a new vehicle. As much as I wanted to wait six more months anyway, I knew if I didn't take the plunge now, when the next $800 repair popped up in three months, I'd be mad at myself. So, off I went.
Thanks to a tip from a co-worker, I visited a Honda dealership he recommended, and was determined to get a dependable, reliable car that would last. I now am driving a new blue Honda CRV LX that I lovingly call the "Rapturemobile" or "I'm driving it until Jesus comes." Hopefully I'll come up with a clever name, but that one seems to fit right now.
As a single female, car shopping stinks...unless you are armed with intelligence. For those of you in the car market, or who may be in the market again someday, here are a few tips that helped me secure a deal my budget could live with.....
Do your research. I spent a lot of time online figuring out my options. But even before that, I polled my blogging audience and asked a lot of people their thoughts on reliable, dependable car options. Even during my last episode with my dead car, my AAA Rescue Ranger gave me insights from his experience. There are lots of places to research online....edmunds.com...cars.com ....carmax.com are just three of the sites I used. Beyond just looking up various model choices, I also did research on bank rates and used various calculators to determine the scenarios I could face and what I could afford. It's good to get an idea of what various cars, new and used, are selling for to be educated in the market for your area.
Be firm in what you can pay before you go. Whether you have a certain dollar figure, a maximum monthly payment, or the most you can put as a down payment on a car, know those figures before you start your actual shopping. This keeps you from waffling when a salesman puts the heat on you. Also, start by revealing the low end of what you can pay. This gives you negotiating power so when they balk and you have to "give" something to "get" what you want, you are still within your budget. At the last stage of my recent negotiation, I was clear that if they couldn't reach a deal within my budget, I have a car, I can drive away.
Pick the right time to go. I went to the dealer on June 28. Go towards the end of the month. Salesmen have quotas and are more willing to bend when you go at the end of the month. When you start to look at cars, ask how long they've had the car in their inventory that you are interested in purchasing. For used cars, the longer they sit unsold, the more likely they may have to sell it at auction or to a wholesaler. For new cars, the older inventory has to move for the dealer to get more inventory from the factory - a "turn and earn" method most all dealers encounter with the manufacturer.
I'm no expert, nor do I have all the answers when dealing with car salesmen, but I know that at least these areas have helped alleviate the stresses of car shopping. And, now, more importantly, the stress of coming out to my car after work, or church, or at the gym and fearing it won't start is gone. Hallelujah for the Rapturemobile!