How to Buy a New Car at a Dealership

Research and preparedness are keys to getting the best deal on the new car you've dreamed of.
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Buying a new car at a dealership doesn't have to be an ordeal. With some research, planning and a buying strategy, you can get the best deal on the car of your choice without feeling like you've been taken for a ride. Begin by defining your basic auto needs, including price range, size, fuel economy, performance and options. Then get down to some Internet or consumer magazine research to find makes and models within your price range, along with a listing of specifications and options.

Step 1

Call your local bank or other lending institution to get pre-qualified for a new car loan. You can often obtain better rates and terms going through a private lender than through the dealership.

Step 2

Sell your trade-in vehicle to a private party whenever possible, as you will likely earn more money. If it's more convenient for you to trade it, mention the trade after you've negotiated the best price for your new car. Don't forget to check published values for your trade-in, online or in automotive "blue books" obtained at bookstores or your local library, to ensure that you're getting a fair price.

Step 3

Take a test drive to be sure the vehicle you've chosen is everything you expected, and don't be sold on looks or brand names alone. You'll have to live with this car every day for at least a few years so make sure it's something you actually like to drive and will meet your needs.

Step 4

Ask the salesperson for the lowest possible price, and explain that the financing is already taken care of (if this is the case). If the salesperson asks what you would like to pay, or how much you can afford each month, reiterate your question. Get the quote in writing, thank the salesperson and leave.

Step 5

Go to another dealership and get another price for the same car with the same features using the same tactics with the salesperson. It's OK to mention that you've been shopping around, and to share pricing information, as you try to get another dealer to match or beat your written quote.

Step 6

Go home and sleep on it for a day or two, then make your decision. This avoids impulse buying, and will ensure that you've taken a bit of time to evaluate your choice without the pressure of being in the dealership.

Step 7

Return to the dealership you've chosen and negotiate your trade-in, if applicable. When you've reached an agreement, leave a deposit for the vehicle and contact your bank. The lender will take care of any remaining paperwork and issue a check to you or to the dealership.

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