5 Tips on Being a Good Car Buyer

5 tips on being a good car buyer isn’t just about buying cars. If you read this article, you will be a good buyer (consumer) of most things. Time is valuable and no one likes their time wasted. That idea should cross all walks of life and in every spectrum of business. If your time is important and valuable to you, it should be reciprocated when you are in the shoes of the consumer.

The car business is no exception to the rule. If you feel your time has a certain value and is precious to you, how do you think people at a car dealership feel? Is their time less important or valuable? Close your eyes for a second (just humor me) and envision your typical experience visiting a car dealership…

You pull into a clean parking lot, park your car and most times you are greeted by a sales person or group of sales people. You walk down the lot or showroom and you look at the different vehicle models, etc. All these vehicles are clean and presentable and secured inside the dealers facility. You walk into the office where you are greeted by some other administrative staff. At which time you are asked to typically asked to wait in a lobby while the sales representative is paged to come and meet you.

At which time you follow the sales representative to his desk or office to try and settle on a good deal for your vehicle. When a deal is struck, the vehicle is sent to the back for detailing and fuel and you are ushered to the finance office where you will sign sales contracts, etc.

Everything I just described to you is a run down of a multi-trillion dollar industry. Dealers across the country are running their business the best way they can to turn a profit and keep people paid, overhead continuing and inventory running fresh. This all takes time and money, lots of it. Ever aspect of the experience I just described takes overhead to fulfill. Lot attendants, service technicians, auto detailers, transporters, porters, admin staff, sales staff, finance staff, showrooms, dealers lots, security systems, office furniture, computers and computer networks, monthly and annual subscriptions/license to software packages needed to operate a dealership. I think you see where I’m going here.

If you are serious about buying a car, show the dealer you are visiting that you are.  Here are three tips:

  1. Know what you want-if you travel with kids, cargo, etc. you may consider a pickup truck or SUV. Do your research, if you’re looking for an SUV find out which make and model you like. Don’t go to a new or used car dealer saying you need a car, not knowing exactly what you want or need.
  2. Know what you have to spend-don’t be afraid to share this information with the people trying to help you. If you know the car you’re looking for, you also need to know if you can afford it. Most people don’t want to know your budget so they can max it out, they want to know your budget because they don’t want to waste either person’s time. If you have a budget that won’t meet anything on their lot, they have other customers they can assist and you need to find a dealer with a car you want for the price you need.
  3. Be realistic-have a realistic expectation of all things considered. If you’re buying a used car you have to understand it is a USED car, everything isn’t going to be perfect. It has wear and tear and isn’t brand new. Some dealers put time and effort into reconditioning used vehicles but in the end its a used vehicle. Also be realistic with requests you make, there is a very distinct line for a dealership in making or losing profit. Most dealers won’t be able to upgrade your wheels and tires and add new window tint for free. Also, if you need to finance your vehicle, either through conventional finance methods or buy here pay here; be realistic on what you are prepared to put down and what your recurring payment you’re seeking. The days of $500 down and $100 per month are long gone. Dealerships cannot exist (selling good vehicles at least) on those terms.
  4. Show intent-Nothing screams “waste of time” more than someone not willing to share their contact details with you or take a vehicle on a test drive. Sharing methods on how to reach you is a big show of good intent. It says I am serious about buying a vehicle and if I like your vehicle I don’t mind you contacting me. Also if you are a serious buyer, you will take a vehicle for a test drive. Nothing shows interest more than when a buyer wants to get in the vehicle and see how it handles and operates and wants to imagine how he/she will be driving it everyday.
  5. Be Upfront-What most every dealer will appreciate from a customer is honesty. If you like their vehicle, say so. If you hate it, voice your opinion that you “don’t like it” or “its not for me”. When a customer looks a new or used car and tells the sales person “I have to think about it” that is automatically going to be taken as you are not interested. The dealer will have much more respect and admiration for you if you say something like “it’s not a color I’m comfortable living with long term” or “no thank you I’m not interested” be honest. By trying to be nice and saying “Let me think about it” is only going to leave a bad taste in the mouth of the dealership and when they do have something you really want they either won’t take you serious or they probably won’t make you the deal they would have if you were just honest the first go around.

If you follow these five steps, you will be a much better consumer, not just of vehicles but all goods in general.

If you found this article to be helpful, check out some of our other articles:

The truth about car buying

Are dealer fees bogus?

Used vehicle buying? Where to go?