How to save when buying a car

buying a car

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Credit Sesame with some thoughts on how to save when buying a car.

Buying a new car can be one of the most frustrating purchases in a consumer’s lifetime. While it’s not the biggest expense ever, negotiating with a car salesman can be a big enough headache that you’ll never want to do it again. After researching the type of car you want to buy, go to the dealer with a plan for getting the best price. Here are some ideas to help get the best deal.

Shop for incentives

January is typically a slow month for car dealers, who try to boost sales by offering incentives such as cash back or 0 percent financing. Incentives included cash back, sometimes thousands of dollars, and 0 percent financing.

Shop for a loan

Some car companies will finance your car and charge no interest on the loan. They still make money through increased vehicle sales, since the rates are usually only good for certain models.

You’ll usually have to choose between the cash back rebate or the low financing rate from the dealer. Shopping around for a loan will let you get both if you can get a low loan elsewhere.

Before looking for a loan, know your credit score and fix any errors in your credit report. Places to check for loans include Credit Sesame, credit unions, banks, and online auto lenders such as Auto Credit Express. After you’ve found a good loan rate, ask the dealer if they can beat it.

Don’t go to a dealership

Instead of visiting a dealership, call all of the dealers for the car you’re interested in within a 50-mile radius or however far you’re willing to go to buy.

Tell them you plan to buy a specific car and list the options you want on the car, and that you will decide by 5 p.m. today. Ask them for the lowest price they can give you, which should include all taxes, and tell them you’ll go to the dealer with a check for the best price. It’s a great idea if you can afford to pay for a car upfront without financing.

Negotiate everything separately

If you’re trading in your car, you’re unlikely to get much money for it. Don’t let a dealer combine the price of your trade-in with the new car price. It’s confusing and can hide the fact that they aren’t giving you much money for the trade-in. When I bought a new car the salesman quoted me a price with my old car as a trade-in. I asked what the price would be without selling him my old car, and it was $100 less. I sold my old car on my own.

When negotiating everything separately, don’t bargain based on the financing deal or the monthly payments. Focus on the overall price of the car, not how low they can make the monthly payments.

Time your purchase

Since car salesman work on commission, they may be anxious in the final days of the month to meet their sales quotas and may make better deals. Between Christmas and the New Year is a great time to shop for a new car because most people don’t do it at that time of the year and dealers are looking to meet goals for the number of cars sold by the end of the year.

Be ready to walk away when buying a car

If you do go to a car dealer and don’t get the price you want, walk away. You could spend an afternoon haggling, and walking away may be the best way for the salesman to immediately come down to your price. They know you’re unlikely to return if you leave, so it may be their last chance to get you to buy.

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Disclaimer: The article and information provided here is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice.

Aaron Crowe
Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist who specializes in personal finance topics. He has written for Wise Bread, AOL, AARP, Bankrate and other websites that focus on financial literacy and saving money. He has also worked as a newspaper reporter and editor. You can follow him on Twitter @AaronCrowe.

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