PARTS IN BOLD HAVE BEEN EDITED FOR YOUR READING PLEASURE!!
This is a great article for those of you looking to get a New or Slightly Used Truck or car.
You've been looking for weeks, and you're beginning to think you'll never find a cool new TRUCK in your price range.
Then, it happens. You're driving by the TOYOTA dealership when you see a bright flash of Silver. It's an almost-new TACOMA DC 4X4 The odometer reads 400 miles. The "SLICK SILVER" paint screams "Buy me!"
You're determined to drive off in this truck by the end of the night. But instead, the dealership rep sizes you up, eats you and spits you out. You leave, defeated and on the verge of tears -- and without your beloved Silver Truck.
Don't let this happen to you. The next time you go to the dealer for a new truck, you can avoid wasting your time and energy by following these simple rules:
1. Look the part
If you want to be taken seriously, you need to look smart. Avoid dressing to the nines, but do dress business casual. Carry yourself with confidence and make sure to bring a folder with all of your research. Don't be afraid to consult it in front of the dealer, either. They'll be intimidated, and maybe even impressed.
2. Be serious, but not eager
If the dealer doesn't sense that you're really intending to buy a vehicle that day, he or she isn't going to bother accommodating you. Hint: Avoid saying things like, "Let me just call and check with my dad on that." Instead, make an excuse to step outside or use the bathroom, and call your dad from your cell. Just as important, it doesn't matter how much you have your heart set on that SILVER TRUCK -- you can't even hint at your level of interest. Don't let yourself get too emotionally invested. Remember that it's just a TRUCK, and there's definitely more than one SILVER TACOMA 4X4 out there. To avoid being ripped off, you have to be willing to walk out at any moment.
3. Do your research
Decide on the model you want ahead of time and make sure you know everything about it -- most importantly, the price. You need to know what the dealer probably paid and how much they expect to profit from the sale. Use a resource such as LeaseGuide.com to figure out what's fair and what's not. From there, decide on your bottom line -- the most you're willing to pay for the TRUCK. Then take several thousand dollars off (and be liberal, it can't hurt you to start low) and make that your first offer. Again, you don't need to memorize any of this. Print it out, put it in a folder, and flaunt it in the dealer's face.
4. Watch the time
Haggling for three hours is only going to wear you down -- something that the dealership is probably counting on. Instead, set your watch for 30 minutes (or an hour max) and let the dealer know that if you can't work something out by then, you'll walk. And stick to that plan.
If the dealer leaves the room several times to review your offer with a manager, tell them you'll walk unless you can speak to the manager yourself. Often the rep you're dealing with will go low on the price to keep you interested, only to "consult" with the sales manager and then jack the price back up. Don't stand for this -- request to speak with the sales manager directly.
Also, beware of having private discussions during the times that you're left alone in the office (you never know if they're listening through a phone or intercom). If you need to discuss something privately, go outside or to the showroom.
5. Know your financing options
Even after you make a deal, chances are you're not going to pay in cash. That means you still need to negotiate financing for a loan. The dealership will offer you financing options, but you don't have to use them. Sometimes they can be competitive; other times they can be ways for the dealership to add on other costs. Just because the finance manager verbally guarantees an interest rate doesn't mean that's what you'll end up with. Always read the fine print and get everything in writing.
Remember that interest rates vary from loan to loan -- and the rate you'll get largely depends on your credit score. Before you go to the dealership, make sure you know your credit score and what interest rate you may qualify for. You can request your credit score for a small fee through Equifax, Experian or TransUnion. Use LeaseGuide.com for more information.
The only way you'll know if you're getting a good financing deal is by researching your options ahead of time. For a list of loan sources, see the How Stuff Works guide to car financing. You'll have an advantage by going into the dealership with financing in hand. If you're pre-approved for a loan, you'll know exactly how much you can spend and what your rate and payments will be. This allows you to focus on negotiating the deal -- and it'll be easy to refuse the dealer's finance offers.
6. Avoid extras
Again, just because you make a deal doesn't mean you've escaped the trap. Just as the finance manager will tempt you with enticing loan options, they'll also dangle extras in front of you -- most notably, the extended warranty. They'll tout its merits and tell you how much you need it. But no matter how good it sounds, remember: Always say no!
There is no absolutely no reason why you should buy an extended warranty from the dealership. If you want one, you can easily buy it after the fact either from the car manufacturer or a third-party company. The dealer's offering isn't necessarily cheaper; in fact, it usually costs more. Plus, you're in a high-pressure situation at the dealer and won't be able to read the fine print. To save yourself from potentially getting ripped off, just say no. It's easy enough to research your warranty options later.
As for other extras, use your best judgment. If they're trying to sell you floor mats for $60, it may be worth it (although ideally, you should have made sure those were already included in the deal). But if they're trying to pile on hundreds of dollars worth of extras, beware. If there's something you have your heart set on, like leather upholstery, make sure that's included in your original deal. The extras are just a way for the dealership to make more profit and rip you off.
7. Be prepared to walk out
Above all else, you must be prepared to walk. You can threaten all you want, but if you're not really willing to let the deal go, there's no point in even trying to negotiate. The dealer will try everything to keep you hostage, but don't give in. They may even try to scam you by requesting a deposit to show their sales manager you're serious. They may even refuse to proceed unless you pay. Don't do it! If that's the way they want to play it, walk out. You owe them absolutely no money until both of you have signed a sales contract.
Think about it this way: A dealership that plays these kinds of games isn't a place you want to do business with. Just chalk the time you spent there up to a learning experience and try again somewhere else.