More than 4,700 pedestrians were killed and 76,000 were injured in traffic accidents in the United States in 2012. But despite the safety risks that come along with operating a vehicle, owning a car is still a necessity for most Americans.
That said, buying a car isn’t always easy — especially as a woman. How can you get the most for your dollar when you’re a single mom or young professional shopping for your next car? Use these secrets during your visit to the dealer to obtain a high-quality vehicle with confidence.
Be Clear About What You Want
You need to set clear expectations, for both yourself and the dealership, when you arrive. If you don’t know anything about the type of car you want and how much you’re willing to pay, you’re probably going to be more susceptible to paying more and walking away with less.
Start by making a list of the features you cannot go without, as well as those you may be willing to leave behind. Research available makes and models to find readily available options that fit within your price range and that provide the capabilities you absolutely need.
The AC Cobra Coupe famously reached 186 mph on a British freeway in 1964, but you may not need all of that power underneath the hood to get from your house to the grocery store. Understanding what you need and ultimately want before coming to the dealer will help you find the right car at the right price.
Find A Sales Person You Can Trust
The first sales professional to greet you on the car lot may not be the right person to sell you the car of your dreams. There’s nothing wrong with shopping around for the right sales associate before discussing what you want and hope to get out of the experience.
Some women feel intimidated by the car-buying experience, so you may be inclined to stick with the first person to say hello. This tactic is not a good strategy when car shopping because not all salespeople are equal.
There are some professionals who are only concerned about their commission. They may try to sell you a car with features you don’t even want to fatten their paycheck. On the other hand, there are sales professionals out there who will listen to your concerns and explain your options to you in a straightforward way. Look for the latter when you visit the lot — and don’t be afraid to look elsewhere if you feel as if you may be put at a disadvantage by working with the first salesperson you meet.
Ask All The Questions You Want
According to the CDC, 83% of children between the ages of two and 17 visited the dentist in 2014. While visiting the dentist probably isn’t on your list of top activities, it’s a safe bet that going to the car dealership may not be, either. But by giving yourself permission to ask questions without feeling self-conscious, you can feel empowered without feeling pressured.
Asking questions is sometimes considered taboo because adults feel as if they should know everything. It is okay, however, to admit that you are not an expert in every field. In terms of car buying, your questions should be along the lines of car performance as well as financing. Consider asking questions that confirm your research about the car rather than posing inquiries that do not add value to the conversation.
Come Up With A Game Plan For Financing
It’s a mistake to rely on the dealership as your only possible source of financing. It may end up that the dealership can provide you with the best financing option, but that may not always be the case. As such, you should come to the car lot with a game plan already in place for funding.
Some car buyers seek options with their local bank or credit union weeks before visiting the dealer to purchase the car or truck they desire. Presenting guaranteed financing comes with many benefits; in some cases, the dealership might offer lower interest rates in an effort to take business away from your personal bank. Regardless of how things work out, you should come prepared with at least 20% of the car’s down payment and a basic understanding of how much your payments will be every month. Figure out what you can afford and make that clear to the salesperson — though you may not want to tell them the maximum amount right away. This can leave you with more room to negotiate.
Know When To Shop
Those who believe you can go to the dealer any time of year don’t understand the art of car hunting. Shopping at the beginning of the year yields more flexibility in terms of financing and vehicle availability.
Going to the dealer after lunch can sometimes get you a cheaper rate, as well. Some consumers believe shopping for a car near closing time is a good idea. But as you get closer to quitting time, salespeople may be too exhausted to work with you on a favorable deal. Visiting the lot right after lunch may be a better idea, while aiming toward the end of the month can also be to your benefit.
You should never sign a contract for financing or a lease agreement until you feel confident about the terms as well as the car. Your car buying experience can be less intimidating and more joyous if you follow these tips.