4. Negotiate more than just price.
If you’re buying from a dealership, look beyond the number on the windshield. For instance, you can negotiate the interest rate, if you’re planning to finance, so you pay less in the long run. To do so, obtain a preapproval from your bank, credit union, or other financing institution before you start shopping. Then ask the dealer or your preferred lender if they can beat that rate.
In the current market, your old car may command a hefty trade-in value. While you would certainly get more money by selling the car yourself, it can be time-consuming and a hassle. Price-shop on sites such as Carvana and Carmax. Once you get a few online offers, ask the dealer to match or beat the best one. If they don’t, sell your vehicle elsewhere.
When buying a used car, get a pre-purchase inspection from your local AAA Owned or AAA Approved Auto Repair Center before moving forward with a purchase. While a dealership or private party may not be thrilled, getting a pre-purchase inspection is a standard practice—and a prudent one. If any mechanical problems are found, those repairs can be negotiated. With a private owner, you may be able to get a lower sale price; a dealership, in most cases, will handle the repairs.
5. Carefully consider add-ons.
When you’ve settled on a price at a dealership, you’ll head into the finance office to finalize the transaction. This is where the dealer makes their money. The finance manager is often the most talented salesperson in the dealership, and their job is to sell you a warranty, paint protection, gap insurance, and more.
These extras aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s important that you be prepared, read the fine print, and make an educated choice. If you can, come back the next day to sign all the paperwork, so you don’t feel rushed or worn down.
Before you sign, double-check whether you can get a lower price elsewhere. For instance, gap insurance, which covers the difference between what the vehicle is currently worth and the amount of the loan, is frequently less expensive from your insurance company or lender.