Let’s Make A Deal

Everything is negotiable when buying a new car

“With the interest rate they were offering,” he explains, “I felt I was getting a good deal.”

The one mistake Player made was trading in his Cougar. “I should have kept that car,” he says. He only got $500 for it, even though the car was still running reasonably well. He had thought about selling it himself but didn’t want to be bothered with the hassle of placing an ad. The mechanic who had worked on the old car told him he could have sold it for $1,000. “I’m going, ‘Thanks for telling me after the fact.’”

Player has had his share of bad experiences buying cars. “I feel like I’m getting ripped off. There’s always some high-pressure salesperson hounding you around the place, always haggling for a deal. You feel like you’re not getting the best. Saturn’s no-pressure policy was attractive.”

But he was happy with this purchase. “The service is just superb. I liked the fact that we got 36,000 miles worth of oil changes [and that] they wash your car for you when you bring it in to be serviced.” Player also was pleased to support a black dealer. “Whenever I can patronize an African American [business] and walk away satisfied, it makes me feel better. It just so happened that I did like the Saturn. If I didn’t like the Saturn, I would have moved on.”

DRIVING A BARGAIN
Buying a new car is all about preparation, patience, and perseverance. Read on to learn some tips to remember when you’re shopping for a new set of wheels.

  • Assess your needs. “The first thing [you] need to do is evaluate your transportation needs,” says Wayne Young, director of automotive services for AAA Missouri in St. Louis. Is the car just for you or for your family? Is the car for business or personal use? Are you more concerned about fuel economy or safety, reliability or performance? Do you want to buy or lease?
  • Start your research. Consumer car magazines and publications like Consumer Reports provide detailed reviews on virtually all new cars. Websites such as the one run by AAA (www.aaa.com) and NADAguides.com (run by the Na
    tional Automobile Dealers Association) provide information on vehicle features and pricing.
  • Appraise your trade-in. To do this, visit Edmunds.com (www.edmunds.com) to determine the retail value of cars dating back to 1980.
  • Find your own financing. Young recommends that you shop for a loan before you shop for a car. As the AAA Website points out, dealers often structure financing so that you pay off almost all the interest before paying the principal — in several years this may leave you still owing more on the car than the car is worth.
  • Save the trade-in for last. Don’t discuss the trade-in until you get the best deal you can on the new car. “People get confused,” Young says. “They think they’re getting a great deal, when they might have gotten a better deal.”
  • Know what the dealer paid. If you’re aware of the wholesale price your dealer paid for the car, you’ll know
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