What is a must-have for your new vehicle?
First, think about what is absolutely non-negotiable for your vehicle. Do you want a big, bad, gas guzzler or would you prefer a smaller engine with amazing gas mileage? Do you need four-wheel drive for the rough winters or outdoor activities? How much space do you need? Do you have kids or are you planning on having them in the next few years? You don’t need to decide on a make or model right away, think about what type of vehicle suits your lifestyle and does that translate to a car, SUV, or truck? Write these items down so you know to ask your sales guy about mandatory features. I decided it was time for a change after having my first and only car for just under a decade. I’m not one to make a big decision like this on a whim, so I thought about all the things I liked and didn’t like about my car and went from there. I wanted a small SUV with good gas mileage and four-wheel drive.
Set a price on what you can afford per month, and don’t budge.
Take the time to go through your financials and commit to a monthly payment that you can afford. A monthly payment that doesn’t make you cringe and is reasonable. It’s not your sales guy that is going to be making the payments for you, so don’t get swayed into an extra $50 a month because he says he simply “can’t go any lower.” Also, whatever price you settle on, does not include tax! My goal was to have a $200 monthly payment and trade in my vehicle with no money down. Fast forward to me finding a vehicle that met my requirements. I told them what I expected to pay, and they came back to me with $350 monthly payment. I told them $200. They came back at $325, I told them $200. They got this crazy special approval for $250, I told them $200. They assured me there was no way they could possibly get lower than that, so I thanked them for their time and went home.
Don’t be afraid to walk away
Car shopping is exhausting. You finally decide on a vehicle that might be the right match, go on a test drive, sit with sales and negotiate prices. It’s easy to feel like you just want to get the process over with and feel obligated to settle on a just-okay deal. DON’T DO IT. if you’re not getting what you want, then walk out. They will have your contact information and reach out if they can adjust their pricing. A day later I received an email notifying me they were miraculously able to get special approval for a monthly payment of $225. So close! I was tempted because it seemed like they bent over backwards for me but followed rule number 2 and informed them if they could get me to $200, I will happily come in and sign. It took 3 hours before I got the email back letting me know what an amazing sale they found and could lock me in at $200. I did it!