Be empowered, not intimidated, when car shopping

Photo source: Metro Service
Don’t let the dealership intimidate you into signing a contract right away. Take time to think about it.

Greetings from the Hemet Car Guy,

Recently I had a visit from a reader. Beverly said she really “enjoyed the advice and tips from the column,” but, as a woman whose husband recently passed away, she was a little intimidated about going to a dealership to shop for a car. Now, mind you, Beverly is retired military and is quite capable. In fact, she showed me photos of a new countertop that she installed herself, so I was a little surprised when Beverly told me that going into an auto dealership is “nerve racking.”
This one is for you Beverly – for an empowering and smooth experience when buying a new car.

Do your research
Know what type of car you want to buy, including make, model and features. Narrow it down to two or three models, which will save you time running between dealerships. Google the dealership and look for ratings. Pay particular attention to the reviews from women who post reviews of their buying experience.

Don’t rush to purchase
Buy a car that works for you – functionally, technologically and financially. Don’t fall in love with a car that you cannot afford. Car payments typically last four to six years – ensure you can manage the financial commitment for that period of time.
Once you’ve received your offer from the dealership, visit sites like and see if there are any other dealerships in your preferred mileage radius. Make sure the dealership isn’t offering the car at a lower price online – log on with your smartphone at the dealership to confirm it. Reputable dealerships will sell the vehicle at the advertised price – even if you don’t know about it.

Know when to shop
Go to the dealership during the day, in nice weather. Shopping toward the end of the year or the end of the month is a good time. New models are typically unveiled during the summer months and dealerships are more willing to work out better deals to offload the older models. Some dealerships impose quotas for their salespeople, so visiting dealerships the last week of the month can make a difference in your final price.

Be clear about your expectations
Let the dealership know exactly what you are willing to pay and how much time you have to finalize the deal. Bring in other offers and let them know what you are willing to trade your current car for. Back up what you say with evidence. Remember when negotiating that the dealer needs to make money—just not too much at your expense.

Don’t rush signing the contract
Salespeople do always want to do business right away, but don’t rush to sign the contract just to get it out of the way or because the salesperson says the car will be gone tomorrow. Think about the total payment, including insurance. Leave the dealership, return home and sleep on it. There is no need to feel guilty about leaving the dealership. It’s your hard-earned money!

Shop online
It’s really easy to buy a car online. Auto broker services are great for people who know precisely what they want to buy, options included, and are only interested in getting the lowest price. Another way to buy online is to locate several dealerships in the area and contact their internet sales manager via their website. Compare prices and work with the lowest priced dealer.

Take it for several test drives
Once the car selection is narrowed down, have your partner, husband or friend test drive with you – they may notice things that you may have missed and determine whether the passenger areas are adequate. Most drivers don’t take this into consideration. If you test drive the car during the day, consider coming back later and drive it at night. Make sure that the headlights and interior lights work well for your needs.

Get a vehicle history report
When buying a certified pre-owned car, spend about $40 and get a vehicle history report from a reputable source such as Enter the Vehicle Identification Number (usually found on the windshield) and a comprehensive report will be generated, which often can uncover any hidden problems that the dealership did not tell you about. This report includes mileage history, who and how many people have owned the car, and where it’s been. Some dealers, like ours, offer them at no charge. Just click on the Carfax link right from the dealership’s inventory page.

Walk away from an inconsiderate salesperson
Disrespectful, pushy or intimidating salespeople should be a thing of the past. You do have a choice and you do have the power. Ask to speak with the manager or owner at the time or come back later, especially if the process is not working for you – or, if you don’t like the way the salesperson is or has been talking to you, let them know, a good dealerships owner will appreciate it.

Good driving,

The Hemet Car Guy

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