Few people look forward to the process of haggling with a salesperson over a new car.
But knowing how to buy a new car can be the difference between a pleasant experience and stressful ordeal. Either way, there are ways to save money if you do your research.
When to Buy a New Car
Engine Industries, a web design/development company, studied Google Trends to track the repetition of search terms indicating when people were researching cars and found the highest traffic in the summer and the lowest in winter. They also determined that the best month to buy a car is around November when the demand is lower, and so the argument goes, the consumer has more room to negotiate on price.
If that's the case — and if you buy the general maxim that the end of the month is always best because dealers and salespeople have quotas they have to meet — then the last few days of November might be a prime time for haggling, one of the best ways to save money.
Know What You Want to Pay
It sounds simple, but by determining what you are willing to pay before you begin, you potentially eliminate the "mission creep" that often sets in at the dealership: all the fancy options, the bells and whistles, are easier to resist if you have a firm cap on what you will pay for your new car. Researching what your target price should be for a specific model will keep you on track to save money.
Watch for Rebates and Incentives
It goes without saying, if the dealer is offering special incentives like cash rebate or low-interest financing, take full advantage. Newspaper and TV promotions are one way to keep track, but online car-buying resources probably offer the greatest convenience.
What Are Other People Paying?
As everyone knows, the dealer sticker price can be more a starting point for negotiations than a set-in-stone final price. You need to know what others are paying for the same car — and how low you can get the dealer to go off of their sticker price. Tools like Edmunds.com or the Regions Auto Center powered by TrueCar can help inform you of just how much wiggle room you have to negotiate and save money.
Go Online to Save
In the past, you inevitably had to head to the showroom floor to deal with car salesmen in person. No longer. If you relish the challenge, head to the dealer. If not, you might find corresponding and even negotiating by email and phone save you time, money and reduces the stress of buying a new car. It also allows you to play one dealer against another as a way to save money in search of the best deal.
Everyone seems to have their own theory. Some suggest if you buy from a dealer, insist on doing business with their Internet salesperson rather than their traditional staff to get the best price.
Ask For It In Writing
If you do negotiate online or on the phone, after you arrive at a final price, ask the salesperson to email or fax you an itemized worksheet that explains exactly what costs what. Watch for items and extra costs you didn't anticipate or perhaps didn't even request.
A final thought on how to buy a new car: If you are going to pay cash instead of financing, you should still check to see what rebates are available if you finance through the dealer. You can always pay the loan off a few days or months later, depending on what early payment penalties they have. More than just another way to save money, it could result in a substantial savings for you.