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“When you love cars and are prone to instant gratification, it?s tough to stick with the same car more than a year.”
While penny auction sites insist you can bid on and win any new car you like for the equivalent of a few months’ payments, purchasing through an authorized brick-and-mortar (or click-and-mortar) dealership is a safer and smarter bet. Not that they’ll let you drive off the lot for a thousand bucks. Like it or not, car dealers are for-profit organizations, with overhead and quotas to meet.
That said, you still need to know how to get a discount on a new car. In your father’s day, that meant a marathon of arguing over a couple hundred bucks for pinstripes and rustproofing. The art of the deal has thankfully evolved. Through education, technology and a little self-discipline, you can still negotiate a realistic deal while saving thousands up front and over the life of your loan.
When you’ve settled on the car you want to buy, it’s good to not only know its features and specs, but also its price points. Most models have multiple trim levels with graduated pricing for standard and optional equipment. It’s tempting to load a car with everything available, but you can literally double the sticker price in the process. So keep an open mind with options and paint. If you can live with a less popular option package and/or color, a dealer might part with it more willingly than the loaded, neutral-toned example more people are buying. As long as you know when to draw the line and avoid being steered into a “deal” that’s actually more expensive, you can still get the car you want without overspending on stuff you don’t need.
Depending on what you’re ditching and what you’re buying, trading in may or may not work in your favor. Be prepared to go either way. See what cars like your old one are fetching in the local classifieds (or the classifieds local to your dealer if substantial distance is involved). While you’re at it, have your potential salesperson give you a ballpark trade-in quote. If you have a high-demand sports car and suddenly learn you’ll need something modest with room for a baby, an infant seat and the half ton of requisite paraphernalia, you could be in a very favorable position. If your outgoing ride is more environmentally hazardous than Charlie Sheen, chances are you’ll come out better selling it on your own or donating it to charity and cashing in at tax time.