Follow these steps when buying a vehicle and put yourself in control

Next to buying a house, buying a car or truck is the second largest purchase most people will make. While you may have researched the make, model, and options you want on your next vehicle, few buyers ever research the buying process. The more you know about the process, the more control you will have when purchasing your next vehicle.

There is little difference between buying a new vehicle, a used vehicle, or leasing a vehicle. Be aware that you will be outnumbered during most buying experiences, but you have the money. You are in control; don’t give that control away. Let’s look at buying a new vehicle.

When you walk into a new car showroom, you will find several salespeople scattered around the room. As you look around the vehicles on display, one of the salespeople will approach you and ask if you need assistance. After a brief conversation, they will usually show you some vehicles and ask you some questions about what you are looking for and your name. This seemingly innocent event has two significant outcomes: the salesperson has determined if you are serious about buying and your financial resources, and secondly, they have claimed you as a prospective buyer. If you leave without buying and come back later, that salesperson has laid claim to your business, and other salespersons at that dealership will usually not deal with you for a period of time!

Now this might be fine if your salesperson is personable, knowledgeable, and helpful, but what if they don’t know the product, or worse yet, are trying to lead you into buying something you don’t want. A good salesperson will help you find the right vehicle, but there are often special financial incentives for salespeople to move certain models, or higher profits to be made on other models. Some salespeople may try to lead you into buying only what they want to sell. Remember, you have the money, so you are in control.

The first step in the buying process is to find a good salesperson. Don’t be afraid to walk into a dealership and interview them. Ask a salesperson why you should deal with them rather than the other salesperson across the room. You will probably surprise them, and learn a lot about the salesperson very quickly.

With a helpful salesperson in tow, start looking at vehicles. Have an open mind, but specify what you need and do with a vehicle. If the salesperson shows you a vehicle that doesn’t suit your needs, let them know immediately. Be firm about your needs. Don’t settle for something that isn’t right for you. You have the money and the control.

Don’t be afraid to test drive several vehicles. Any new vehicle will handle better than your old vehicle, so compare one new one to another. A trip around the block isn’t a test drive. Find a few bumps, corners, a highway, and a tight parking spot. Be sure to try the back seat too. Most new car buyers drive only one or two vehicles, and then it is just a short drive on the highway. The more you drive, the better you can compare the vehicles.

Now comes the issue of price. Saturn dealers have a set selling price, just like the grocery store, but the norm for most dealerships is that the price is negotiable. Even at a Saturn dealer, the value of your trade-in has to be negotiated, so get ready to bargain. Profit made by the dealership varies from a few hundred dollars on a small car to sometimes several thousand on an expensive luxury vehicle. The dealership has to make a profit to stay in business; just don’t let it all be made on you. What you may not know, is that the dealership often makes more profit on your used car trade-in than on the new car sale.

As you bargain with the salesperson, they “take your offer” to the sales manager. The sales manager approves all sales, so in reality, this is the person you are really dealing with! It is the salesperson and sales manager against you, but you have the money. Money is control. If at any time you don’t like what is happening, don’t sign anything; just walk out. You can always come back tomorrow after thinking things through, or there are lots of other dealerships willing to sell you a vehicle. If you know what you want, they will get it for you. I know a person who bought a new Ford from a Chevy dealer!

Once the sales manager approves the deal and the price is agreed, all is not over. Now you are handed off to the “business manager”. This person looks after financing, extended warranties, protective paint coatings, undercoating, and other accessories. Maybe you need the financing. Special factory interest rates can make the dealership financing an attractive proposition, but beware the upsale. The business manager will offer to outfit you with warranties, and accessories that you probably don’t need. Don’t be rushed into signing anything.

Most dealership personnel are knowledgeable and helpful. However, the buying process is designed to pit several of them against you, the buyer. They want a sale; you want a vehicle. It sounds like a good combination, but the priority is to get a vehicle that fits your needs, not necessarily the one the dealership wants to sell. Even though you are outnumbered and in the unfamiliar environment of a dealership, remember, you have total control of what happens. After all, no sales are made without your money.

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