Discover your car-buying superpower and other tools to get a fair price
It’s exciting thinking about getting a new car – whether you’re considering something new or used. But it can also trigger a lot of questions. The biggest may be wondering if you’re paying too much?
Car pricing can be really confusing and the auto industry is one of the few where negotiating is just part of the process. But not everyone is comfortable haggling with car salespeople. Fortunately, you don’t need to be a shrewd negotiator to ensure you’re getting a fair deal on a new set of wheels. You just need to know how to determine a reasonable price.
Take these two tools for a test drive
There are two great tools for determining the fair price of a car. You’ll find the first at Kelley Blue Book and the second at J.D. Power.
You can choose the make and model of the car you’re considering and even refine your search as you go with choices ranging from trim packages to specific features, like keyless start.
Both tools will return results of cars for sale in your area that match your criteria. This allows you to see what the market is like. The Kelley Blue Book tool will even give you what it calls the Fair Market Price. This is their estimate of what you can expect to pay in your area based on “...MSRP (Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price), actual new-car transactions, and data from other reliable third-party sources as well as market conditions.”
Before you start shopping, the tools can help you determine what you may like and what you can afford based on your budget. This will help you feel more prepared and more confident when you actually start looking at cars.
These tools are especially helpful if you're feeling particularly emotional about a car you’ve found, or a high-pressure salesperson is making you feel like you could lose a deal. Take a step back and run the details of the car through one (or both) tools to avoid any rash decisions or a costly move.
Other tips to help you get a fair price
Here are a few other tips to help you identify a fair price for the vehicle you’ve got in mind.
Commit to visiting more than one dealer. It may take a little more time, but it will give you a good perspective. A car that seemed perfect at one dealership may suddenly pale in comparison to the deal you find on a competing lot.
And don’t be afraid to let a dealer know that you’re shopping around. If a dealer knows you’re looking only on their lot, it could be harder for you to negotiate.
Embrace your car-buying superpower
Car dealers want to sell you a car right now. Even the laid-back salespeople will find subtle ways to crank up the pressure. If you’re starting to feel uncomfortable in any way, remember that you have a car-buying superpower: You can walk away. Salespeople don’t want you to leave the lot. It’s your ultimate leverage.
If you really want the car and you’re willing to pay their price, then go for it. But if you feel like the price is off-base, then don’t be afraid to walk. There are other dealers out there. You may even find that, after you walk away, you get a phone call/text/email from a salesperson who is willing to compromise.
Additional used-car buying tips
When it comes to buying a used car, there are a couple more tips to consider. First, don’t be afraid to ask for a vehicle history report such as a CARFAX report. Many used car dealers offer these for free. The report details things like whether the car has been in an accident and the vehicle’s service history. After reviewing this report, you may change some of the settings in the Kelley Blue Book or J.D. Power tools mentioned above to get a more accurate fair price.
You can also request to have an independent mechanic inspect the vehicle. If you’re close to a decision on a used car, this may be a final step to ensure there are no major surprises.
An additional new car-buying tip
There are a lot of standard fees that come with buying a new car. For example:
- Destination charge
- Inspection and emission fee
- Documentation fee
- Tax, title, and license
But you may notice other items popping up on the sticker or on the contract. These may include:
- Fabric protection, sealing, or rustproofing
- Extended warranties
- VIN etching
- Dealer preparation charges
- Market adjustment fee
Typically, these items are negotiable, either by lowering the cost of each or having them removed from the price completely.
Thinking of your new ride can be fun, but the actual car buying process can easily turn into a downer. It doesn’t have to be that way. Use the tools that are readily available to you. Remember the tips. And don’t forget your superpower. Do that and you’ll feel confident about the price you pay for your next vehicle.
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