Five things to do before you go the dealership

I’m convinced that there’s a special type of anxiety for new car shoppers. There’s something about the anticipation of stepping foot onto that dealer lot that makes customers incredibly nervous. I have good news for you, new car seekers – you don’t have to be timid. Like all shopping experiences, an educated consumer is the best secret weapon. That’s why I’ve put together this short and simple list of 5 things to do before you head to the dealership:

1.  Decide what you want.

We’ve talked about this before. Determine exactly what it is that you want OUT of your next vehicle in order to make the best choice for you. Having a tough time choosing? That’s OK. Pick a few options – even if that means comparing a sedan against a crossover – and follow Step 2 to help make your final decision.

2.  Research, research, research!

The Internet is your friend – your smartphone is your friend, too, if you’re at a Porsche dealership! Use the plethora of online sites and tools to understand the product before you step foot on the dealership lot. Don’t forget the physical research. You’ve got to get behind the wheel and drive a vehicle to truly understand it. Spend some time going over the features to really learn what you like or dislike about the car.

3.  Determine your “out-the-door” budget

Remember, this list is for BEFORE you get to the dealership. Know your budget and stick to it. If all you have to spend is $20,000 then don’t forget that you’ll need to pay for taxes, title and doc fees – even sometimes a destination/delivery charge. Those post-sale items can add up quickly, easily reaching $1,500 or more.You’ll want to negotiate a price that is inclusive of all of those fees so that you’re certain to keep within your spending

4.  Lease or Buy?

The age-old question of buying or leasing will never end. It’s really a matter of lifestyle in my opinion. If you like to have a brand-new car every 2-3 years (and can afford to), then leasing is probably the best option for you. Everyone else? BUY.

5.  Know how you’ll pay for it.

Cash or finance? The lending market has certainly tightened in the past few years with the economic downturn. If you have the cash to either fully purchase the vehicle or to pay for 50 percent of it (and finance the rest), then that’s the way to go. (BCC Tip:  Telling the salesperson that you’re paying cash can also help in negotiations!)

Young adults who want to build their credit should go with a local credit union or bank who’ll loan them the money for most of the purchase price (if not all of it).

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This article was written by

Melanie Batenchuk founded Be Car Chic in 2009 as a way to help consumers make smart decisions when buying and selling their cars. Her prior work at the dealership, trade association and manufacturer levels has provided her a deep understanding of the complex facets within the auto industry, making her a leading woman in her field.

There are 2 comments for this article
  1. Earlene Harps at 2:13 PM

    I like the idea of researching about the car. You will be amazed at what information you can see on the Internet about the car you want. What’s more is that you can budget your money early on as you would know what price to expect. And if you have another car, try trade-in or selling your car because it would help sum up the money to buy a new one.

  2. Leisa Dreps at 3:40 PM

    Yes, researching is one key to be able to choose the right car! This will help you focus more on the qualities and features that you would want your car to have. It practically keeps you from getting too carried away with the promotional words of the car dealer, thus saving you protecting you from buying on impulse.