Five Steps to a New Car Deal

5 steps to new car dealMany of us know that the process of buying or leasing a new car, and getting a good deal, is often long, tiring, and stressful. And that’s just the part in the dealer’s store. Of the five steps we’ll discuss, four occur in the dealer’s place of business and can unnecessarily take hours of your life away, if you let it.

1. Research – This is the stage where you do your homework to determine the type or even the make and model of vehicle you want. You have many resources that can help. There are car company web sites, Consumer Reports magazine and website, car magazine web sites, and car owner web sites.

Then there are web sites such as Edmunds.com where you can not only find data about all car makes and models, but also get pricing information.

You should also go to local dealers and test drive the vehicles you think you might be interested in. Don’t take your checkbook, however, because it’s not time to buy just yet.

In this stage of the car buying or leasing process, you can (and should) take your time, and gather as much information as you can to make a smart decision. The more time you spend at this stage, the less time you’ll spend in the dealer’s office.

2. Negotiation – This is the stage after which you have decided on a particular vehicle and now want the best deal you can get. You visit your dealer and begin discussing price and payments, assuming you need a loan or lease. You could hours in this stage alone, haggling and going back-and-forth with the salesperson, his manager, and other “players.”  Your goal is to get to the final price quickly without all the game playing.

If you’ve done your pricing research, found available incentives, and gotten competitive price quotes from online services such as  Edmunds.com, you’ll won’t waste much time at this stage.

3. Data Gathering – This is the stage at which you’ve agreed on the car and price and, assuming you are leasing or buying with a loan, the dealer needs personal information from you to process the paperwork associated with the title, registration, credit check, and loan or lease application.

To speed up the process, you should have already collected and prepared information about your home ownership and mortgage (if any), employment, bank accounts, credit card numbers, account numbers, balances, photo ID, and social security number — everything needed to check your credit history and assess your credit worthiness. It’s always a good idea to know your most recent credit scores before shopping for a car.

4. Trade-In – If you are trading another car, this is where you could easily spend hours if you aren’t prepared. To save time, you should have already researched the trade value of your vehicle at online services such as Kelley Blue Book (kbb.com) and NADAguides (nadaguides.com). Be realistic about your vehicle’s value and don’t expect the dealer to immediately agree with your assessment. Negotiate quickly and be prepared to walk out if the dealer won’t give you what you know is fair and reasonable.

5. F & I Office – This can be another speed-bump in the car buying or leasing process. The Finance and Insurance manager is responsible for creating and explaining the paperwork you will sign, take your money, give you your keys, thank you for your business, and let you be on your way.

Simply signing paperwork is time-consuming in these modern times of multiple consents, authorizations, privacy notifications, legal agreements, acknowledgements, waivers, power of attorney, title and registration forms, and more.

But … not so fast. The F&I manager has another job — making extra sales for the dealership. Before you sign papers, he’ll try to sell you extended warranties, credit insurance, rust proofing, paint sealant, security systems, window etchings, and other products not usually worth your money — or your time listening to them being explained. Know ahead of time if you will want any of those services, and simply explain to the manager that your time is limited and that you are not interested in all the other products.

Post Sale – Although we don’t list this phase of your car buying or leasing process in our 5 steps, it is nevertheless where you’ll spend a hefty portion of your time at the dealership. Long gone are the days when you are given the car keys and a handshake, and you drive away.

Now, you must be introduced to service personnel, have all the manuals in the car explained, wait for the car to be “prepped”, and be “trained” in the use of all the technical gadgetry in the car.

Summary

If you plan to buy or lease a new car, you can spend many hours in the dealer’s showroom and offices. However, you can minimize that time by doing early research and being prepared before you visit your dealer.

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