Buying a new car is exciting, thrilling…and also complicated. Save yourself time, money, and aggravation: go down this checklist before, during, and after stepping on the lot.
1.“What cars do you have that can meet my needs?” Think more along the lines of vehicle types than brands; do you want a crossover SUV, a sedan, a sports car? Is this going to be your primary car, or your secondary car? Is this going to be a car you put to a lot of use, or is it going to be one you roll out of the garage on the weekends? Make a list of what you want out of the car and see what the dealership has to offer: it’ll save both you and them a lot of time.
2. “What fees do I have to pay in addition to the price?” Get a sense of what you can afford: remember, you’ll be paying for auto insurance, taxes, gas, license plates, and any number of other little fees. Get rid of surprises.
3. “What are the insurance rates on this type of car?” The dealership should be well aware of how much insurance on the cars it sells is, especially if they also repair cars on site. If they’re not sure, ask your insurer. If it’s too high, get some price quotes online to get a sense of how much more or less you’ll be paying for your car insurance.
4. “What tax credits are available for your cars?” If you’re thinking about getting a fuel efficient vehicle, you can easily get a federal tax credit for it, but other tax credits may be available for other types of vehicles. Take a look and see what, if anything, you can save before getting on the lot.
5. “How often do these cars need repairs?” Repairs can really drain your wallet, so ask about repair costs. Compare their answers to what people are saying online, especially for cheaper cars.
6. “Can I take a look around, and then come find you when I’ve got some questions?” Be polite to the salesman, but don’t mistake a friendly demeanor for a casual one. Salesmen are trained to read your state of mind and interest in a vehicle: after all, it’s their job to make the product as appealing as possible to you. No good salesman will try to force you into a sale, but they’re awfully good at finding what you want and giving it to you.
7. “Can I take it for a test drive?” It may sound obvious, but it’s worth repeating; always take each car you’re interested in for a test drive. There’s nothing that’ll tell you whether or not you like it like trying it out.
8. “Can you give me your card, and I’ll come back tomorrow?” Never buy the day you walk onto the lot. Always compare and contrast your vehicles with each other.
9. “What’s included in that sticker price?” Floor models may be the basic model you’re looking for, or the tricked out car to bring everybody into the showroom to take a look. Ask about extras and whether you can get a car without them to reduce the price.
10. “What kind of deal can you give me on financing and the down payment?” A good salesman is happy to haggle over price: just don’t insult him by demanding half off up front. But also consider asking about lower financing rates, lower down payments, and other possible perks, especially if you have a good credit score. If you’re a good credit risk, they don’t want you to slip through their fingers, and that can make life easier on your wallet.
Good luck and good hunting!