First, you MUST DO YOUR HOMEWORK!!!!! The dealers have done theirs on you.... they know who you are before you open your yap. They've seen "your type" day in and day out. The can SMELL you coming. They've got nicknames for the public.
If you cannot decide on the EXACT vehicle you want BEFORE you waltz into a dealership, and just the EXACT equipment of want, try to get a general idea as to the lowest and highest range you are prepared to pay.
NEVER, NEVER, NEVER pay MSRP(manufacturers suggested retail price...or "sticker") for a car!! You don't have to (unless it is a car which has JUST come out on the market and you want to be the first on your block to have one ( "get a life" comes to mind), then prepare to get raped by the dealer. Otherwise, there are too many dealers and too many of the car YOU want available to EVER pay MSRP. Do you know why God created "Non-Jews"??? SOMEONE had to pay retail! Don't let it be you. (My bubbe always hated that line)
The salesperson is a GAME PLAYER who is taught the art of STRATEGY and they are GOAL ORIENTED. The goal is to get you to buy a car TODAY...and NOT walk out of the showroom to another dealership. They want to sell you a unit that is in stock also (as opposed to ordering from the factory)...and at the HIGHEST PRICE THEY CAN SQUEEZE OUTTA YA! They are NOT your friend....your buddy....your pal, who is there to help you make a wise decision and save some $$$. The are taught the subtle pressure tactics...Intimidation 101...and to play on whatever human weaknesses they are lucky enough to perceive in you.... (not wanting to seem cheap....not wanting to seem like you REALLY don't know what the hell you are talking about, etc.).
Buying a car is TOTALLY an emotional issue. The car dealers spend MEGA $$$ on advertising to get you sexed up to feel like you're a "manly man"...or a "sexy babe" if you buy a certain car! How about that smell of a new car.....hhm.....just inhale that. How about that leather....mmmmmm....have you ever felt anything so soft? You look GREAT in that machine....you look POWERFUL....ITS YOU!! Just think of your friends...your neighbors....you'll be the envy of all. Oh PUHLEEZE!!!!!!!!
Take a XANAX, calm down...put your feet on planet EARTH and be smart instead of the sucker you might be. IT'S A CAR!!!!!!!
Are there better times than others to walk into the dealer? YOU BET! Sales figures are computed on a MONTHLY basis. The salespeople...the sales managers get bonuses for making their monthly quotas. The BEST time of the month to buy is THE END OF THE MONTH, when they are desperate to make their bonus!!!! There are also WEEKEND quotas so be the last customer on a Sunday.
Now....once you have done your homework (and here are links that will help you do THAT...:
THE KELLEY BLUE BOOK ONLINE
EDMUNDS CAR BUYING GUIDE
AND...you should bone up on your negotiating skills. Ya say you are just not good at this sort of thing? Then find a friend who is! If you don't know anyone....then I suggest a car buying service (of which there are MANY on the web!!). You actually CAN benefit $$$ by using them, but again, you need to do your homework in order to make sure you're getting the best deal.
Be calm....collected...confident (even if your are not...be an actor) and be willing to walk away from the table at ANY point if things are NOT going the way you want them to. THIS IS IMPORTANT!
NEVER let the dealer talk about how much they will take off the MSRP (manufacturers suggested retail price) Sticker price....tell them you ONLY deal from the "invoice UP!" If they balk....you walk.
NEVER make any offer until a counter offer has been made. Don't RAISE your offer if the dealer doesn't like it...let THEM make the counter....THEN you counter again... and when you DO counter....don't counter in BIG chunks of $$$..only small.
Lastly, the dealer who has NOT made a huge profit on the sales price of the car because you were smart will TRY to get you to buy extras like an extended warranty.....undercoating.....other un-needed stuff. DON'T be suckered at this point!!!
REMEMBER.....YOU control the deal, and you'll feel like a winner. Let THEM control you (and trust me...they WILL try), you may get a beautiful car, but you'll always feel like you were a loser cause you got screwed.
Still, it's possible to find a used car capable of delivering thousands of trouble-free miles -- if you're willing to invest the time.
First, decide what kind of car you need and how much you can afford to spend. Talk to owners of similar cars. Most owners will share their experiences a bout their vehicles. Ask about maintenance, gas mileage, and major and minor problems.
Next, check used car ads in the classified section of your newspaper. The ads will give you some idea of current retail prices. A new car dealership is another good place to compare prices on a used car. Dealer prices are usually higher than those in the classified ads, however, because the best trade-ins are kept and the rest are sold wholesale. Some people prefer a privately owned car. The drawback is that a used car bought from a private owner usually has no guarantee.
When calling about a car, ask whether the seller is a dealer or individual owner. Ask how may previous owners there have been, how the car was used and why it's being sold.
Occasionally, you may be able to buy a car from someone within your family, or a friend. This can result in a good buy, but it also can be a later source of friction if the car turns out to have problems. If you find what appears to be a good, clean car, don't be too concerned about the mileage on the odometer. The way a car has been driven, along with care and maintenance, is more important.
Always road test a car. Make sure the test is more than just a drive around the block. Have the car checked by a mechanic before you buy it. Don't be so enamored with a particular model that good judgment falls by the wayside. The first one you see may not be the best deal.
If you're buying the car from a dealer, read the contract carefully. If there are problems that need to be corrected, make sure the dealer takes care of them before you drive away. Read everything before you sign and keep a copy of the contract.
Be especially careful in a private sale. Check that the seller is, in fact, the registered owner of the car. Make sure you get the car's title and a bill of sale. Remember, most private party sales are "as is."
THINGS TO LOOK FOR WHEN CONSIDERING THE PURCHASE OF A USED CAR
- Check the condition of the paint and look for any indication that the car has been repainted.
- Examine the lower edges of the car body, behind the bumpers and around the rocker panels below the doors for rusted-out spots. In addition, check door sills, floors and the inside of the trunk. Any car with sizable rusted-out areas should be rejected.
- Check for badly worn tires, including the spare. Uneven wear on any tire may indicate front-end trouble.
- Inspect the inside of the tailpipe. A light gray color indicates proper combustion, while a dark, sooty appearance could mean excessive piston and ring wear.
- Remove the radiator cap to see if the coolant is clean and the cap itself does not have caked- on rust. Check the back of the radiator for obvious leaks.
- Oil in the air cleaner indicates worn rings as well as too much blow-by through the crankcase pollution control valve.
- Pull out the transmission dipstick and sniff it. A burnt smell may mean excessive heat in the transmission and possible extensive trouble. Feel the consistency of the crankcase dipstick. Gritty oil could mean sand in the engine.
- Has the car been receiving maintenance? Check the stickers on the door jamb to determine regularity of upkeep.
- Excessive wear on the pedals, upholstery and carpeting, could indicate a great deal of mileage. Check the trunk mat and the headliner -- especially near the doors -- for excessive wear.
- Check all windows, door locks and seat adjustments for ease of operation.
- Step down on the brake pedal, maintaining a steady pressure for at least one minute. If the pedal continues to sink, repairs may be needed.
- Start the engine, listening for loud or unusual noises while the starter is operating and when the engine begins functioning. Note whether all gauges and warning lights for oil pressure and generator go on and that they go off after the engine starts.
- Check headlights, taillights, brake lights and turn indicators for proper functioning.
- Take a test drive. A wobbly steering wheel and ride might mean bad ball joints, misalignment of front wheels or the need for a wheel balancing job.
- An automatic transmission should take hold promptly when put in gear, with no slamming sound or lurching of the car.
- Accelerate quickly from a low speed to about 55 mph so that the engine labors. If the car picks up speed smoothly, with no bucking, missing or hesitation, the engine is most likely in good condition.
- Make several sharp turns at a low speed. The steering wheel should not stiffen up or become difficult to turn. In a car with power steering, no squeaks, moans or a sudden increase in effort needed to steer should occur.
- On an open road with no following traffic, make several hard stops decelerating from about 45 mph. On cars without anti-lock brakes, the pedal should remain high and solid. If it becomes spongy or there is sudden swerving or grabbing, brake trouble is a definite possibility. On cars with anti-lock brakes, some pedal vibration is normal under hard stopping conditions.
- Descend a long hill with your foot off the accelerator, or, in a flat area, decelerate from 50 mph to about 15 mph using the brake. Then step hard on the accelerator. If there is heavy blue exhaust smoke, the car may need new piston rings or the engine may need an overhaul.
- Inspect the fuel filler opening on cars needing unleaded fuel. A restrictor in the top of the pipe allows only the smaller, unleaded fuel nozzle to fit. An opening with the restrictor removed is strong evidence that the owner has been using leaded fuel, and the expensive catalytic converter could be damaged or ruined, providing reason to bargain the price substantially lower. Unless the selling price reflects the cost of repairing it, avoid the car entirely if emission inspections are required in your city.
YOU CAN BUY BOOKS ONLINE LIKE JACK NERAD'S "THE COMPLETE IDIOTS GUIDE TO BUYING OR LEASING A CAR" FROM AMAZON.COM