Buying a Car! - Crowley,TX

Updated on March 22, 2011
N.L. asks from Crowley, TX
15 answers

I have decided its time to trade my car in and get something new. I will have about $2000 in cash and maybe another $2-$3000 in trade in. But I feel clueless as to what to say or do when I go into the car dealers. I know they work off commission so they are trying to sell you a car at top dollar. My dad has always been the one to help me with this, but he is out of the country now and I just feel like if I went in to a dealer they would see this vulnerable girl and swoop in and sell me something way overpriced. Basically what I need is for my payments to be affordable. Around $250/mo. So I want the biggest, best car I can get and still have a payment around $250/mo. Has anyone recently been through buying an new car and have some great advice about what I say or do when I go in as to not get taken advantage of. How to do you barter with the price of a car, and how do you handle down-payment and trade-in. Is it better to keep that info to yourself until the very end, or discuss it sooner?? I just don't know how buying a car from a sales-person works. I could really use some insighful advice in what steps to take! Is there something you wished you hadn't said. Or said it at the wrong time. I know my last car my dad bought the sticker price was $15k plus, and he got it out the door w/tax, title and license for $9700. So my payment was only $147/mo. That included the GM employee discount and a $2500 rebate, but the rest was becuz he knew what to say and when. Thanks in Advance!!

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answers from Jacksonville on

First things first: NEVER go into a dealership and tell them what you want your payment to be. They might decide to finance you for 7 years or something ridiculous just so your payment is lower. Doesn't mean you got a deal... means you paid more than you should have and they dragged out the payments to keep it under $250.

What you need to do, is get some confidence. How do you do that? Knowledge is power. Do your research. What sort of vehicle are you looking to buy? Go to and do your research. Find out what other people are paying for that same car. How much do the extras cost? What sort of fuel economy does that car have? What rebates are available (both to the consumer AND to the dealer)? What other cars are comparable and what do THEY cost?
Then shop shop shop. Compare prices. Get quotes in writing. Do NOT sign anything the first trip into any dealership. Do NOT give them your driver's license when you go to test drive (take a photocopy in with you to give to them). Otherwise, they have a tendency to keep your license in the finance office or somewhere where you end up "trapped" until they bring it back. That puts them in control of when you leave.
Don't tell them anything about what you are willing to pay or what you are trading in. ONLY discuss the PRICE of the car-- NOT the "payments". Get pre-approved financing from your credit union or bank BEFORE you go shopping. So that you know what you can afford to spend.
I could go on... but don't want to overwhelm you. Read Read Read the tips and suggestions from Edmunds about car buying. KNOW the tricks the dealerships will try to pull to get more of your money before they use them on you.
AND, I cannot stress this enough. Go spend a couple of weekends shopping and test driving cars with absolutely NO intent to buy ANYTHING. Tell them up front you are JUST test driving and looking around. You aren't buying ANYTHING. You will learn in this process, how to shut them down and walk away. Take a friend if you need to, to remind you that you are NOT buying.

I wanted to add something I did once. Print out a copy of KBB (Kelly Blue Book) pricing for the vehicle you are trading in (if you decide to trade in and not sell it outright). AFTER you have negotiated the price of the vehicle you are buying, then discuss the value of the trade in. Use your printed KBB papers to get what you should. Don't let them give you nothing for your valuable car.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

knowledge is your best ally here. Identify a few types of cars you like/want. do some research on Auto and blue book. Splurge for a month of access to consumer reports online, too. Do your research and you will know what the going rate for the type of car you want.
Additionally, find a good mechanic. someone you can take the car to for a complete inspection independent of the dealer.
Know your credit score and secure funding PRIOR to going to the dealership. You will know exactly what you can afford and that will play a big part in your final decision. Also banks and credit unions have better rates than at-the-dealer financing.
Also, take your time. Do not fall for the high pressure sale and if they offer to let you take the car home overnight - don't:) Tell them you have some more research and you'll take them up on it later if the car makes it to the final selection process.
Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsfield on

If possible, call your Dad and ask him for advice. My only other advice is to get a used car- 2 or 3 years old. New cars lose a lot of value the second you drive it off the lot. You can still get a nice car and spend a lot less.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Hi N.,

The first, and most important, thing is to be prepared to walk out. EVERYTHING is negotiable, and YOU hold ALL the cards. Never pay full price for anything. If you don't feel good about the deal, trust your instinct, and walk out.

Always negotiate the price of the car first. Do your research on a car that you are interested in to find out exactly what the MSRP (Manufacuturer's Suggested Retail Price) is, and what the car is actually WORTH (cash value). You should pay somewhere in between those two prices, because the dealer has to make a little money. A good profit margin for a dealer is about $70 to $100 per car, so keep that in mind. They can get much more if they are dealing with someone who has not educated themselves. Get the price of the car set in stone first, BEFORE you tell them you have a trade-in, before you tell them you have a downpayment. Never tell them that first. Don't let them check your credit, don't fill out any paperwork, before you have come to agree on the price of a car.

Then, negotiate the value of your trade-in. Find out what your trade-in is worth, and make sure you get that. Most dealers will low-ball your trade in. Remember, be prepared to walk out.

Finally, negotiate your interest rate until your payment is where you want it to be. Assuming you have good credit... A good rule of thumb is that for a decent interest rate, expect to pay about $20/month per $1000 of car. So, for $250/month, you should be able to pick up a $12,500 car (not taking into consideration the downpayment and trade-in). They will come at you with all kinds of crazy interest rates. Know what payment you want, and do not settle for one dollar more. Lending is where dealers really make their money.

One final consideration- have you considered paying cash for a car and having no payment? Or even keeping the one you have? Having no payment is awesome, and you could save that money every month and pay cash for a car later... that's incredible financial freedom right there. Just a thought...

Good luck!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Johnstown on

Sell your car outright and take the cash with you. Dealers work with someone much better if they see cash in hand as opposed to taking a trade on a vehicle that may have some serious mechanical issues that aren't seen until after the deal closes.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Appleton on

Go to a car lot and look around at prices, find the car you want then leave and go look in the paper or other classified ads. See if you can find a car that is the same type as the one you picked out. Check for the price difference, go back to the car lot and tell the sales person, I love it but I found one in the classified ads for less, how close can you come to that price. Dealers make more money on used cars than on new ones, the mark up is amazing. Also check the Kelley Bluebook prices on line.
Get the carfacts report and have it looked at by a mechanic and maybe a few guy friends who know cars.



answers from Columbus on

Read Consumer Reports' car buying guide.



answers from Tallahassee on

My suggestion. First of all, when going car shopping, try not to take the vehicle you are going to trade in. The first thing the dealer will ask you is, "Are you going to trade that in?" Try to borrow someone's vehicle or just go with someone in their vehicle. Then look around for the vehicle that you are interested in. Tell the dealer how much you can put down and have him work up the paper work for you. Once you have it down on ink, then you tell them you want to think about it and/or try to get more money down. Next time you go, you take your trade in. Now the dealer can not increase the price of the new vehicle to make it seem like he is giving you a great deal for your trade in. He will appraise your trade in and deduct it from the bottom line.
I will give you an example of what happened to my 21 daughter who decided to purchase a new vehicle without us. She had a fully loaded 2008
Jetta which she still owed on. She saw this little ugly stripped small vehicle which she fell in love with. (I will not mention what kind, I do not want to hurt any feelings) Nothing power, all manual. Well the dealer told her that he would give her said amount for her trade in and apply it to the new. When she finally told us about it 40 days later and her paper work arrived, all the dealer had done was added the amount of what she still owed on her vehicle to the new vehicle. So they did not give her a dime for her trade in.
Do not discuss trade in of any kind until you have the bottom line for the vehicle you are planning to buy in writing.
Good luck



answers from Tyler on

Hey -
You are getting some GREAT advice and I want to throw in my two cents as well. First of all, if possible, you may want to wait for your Dad to come back into the country - it sounds like he is a great negotiator. Here are some thoughts I have:

1. As someone else already said, try to sell your car first, if you can. Cash is better and if your car is in decent shape, you will be able to get more money by selling it to someone rather than through the dealer. You can use Kelly Blue Book to find out the current value of your car (online).

2. If you do decide to trade your car into the dealer, don't EVEN talk about the trade in until after you negotiate the price of the car you are purchasing (say you are not going to trade it in).

3. I have heard a commercial lately from Autotrader that says they buy cars - they give you a value of your car that they will pay that you can carry with you to the dealership. If you negotiate a trade in value that is better, that is fine, but you have this offer in your back pocket.

4. Look on Autotrader for a car you might want to buy. You can buy a great used car on autotrader. I recently sold a car on autotrader for an excellent price - the buyers got a great deal. But, I wanted to sell it so that I could buy a used minivan. I wanted to pay cash for the minivan, so I wanted to sell my car first. So, there are great deals on autotrader. Often Autotrader will post a link to a carfax report so that you can pull up the vin number in carfax and see if the car has been wrecked or whatever. You can purchase a membership to carfax for a reasonable amount of money where you can look at as many vin numbers as you want in a month's time period.

3. One mistake I made on my first car purchase was that I negotiated the price of the trade in first and then the price of the car. The trade price negotiated was $2000.00. As the car salesman was writing up the sales ticket, he talked out loud and said what the price of the car was, etc. and then he mumbled that the trade in was $1500.00. I spoke up right then and said that we had agreed on $2000.00. And, he corrected it. But, if I had not spoken up, he would have just written $1500.00 in. Honestly, if that happened today, I would walk away from that dealer right then and there. But, I was about 23 then and didn't really know the rules of the game.

4. As others have said - you are negotiating the price of the car. Definitely get pre-approved for a loan by a bank. You can often get a better interest rate at the bank. Then, you just tell the dealer that you do not need their financing. OR, they might offer you a better rate than the bank and you can take their financing. But, as someone else said - do your homework. DON'T negotiate the price of the monthly payment - only negotiate the price of the car. They sell a little book in the store that goes over interest rates and payments - you can even take that book in with you and if you settle on $10,000 car at 5.00%, you can look in the book and see what the monthly payment would be. Or, if you don't want to be obvious about it, there is probably an ap you could download that would do the same thing and you could just look it up on your phone.

5. Definitely shop around. One dealer may give you a better deal on the same car than another dealer will. I had a dealer say to me once - what would it take for me to get you to NOT leave the lot and buy this car? I left the lot anyway because I was just starting my search and so I didn't know what I wanted to pay yet.

6. Please do consider buying used (even if you buy from a dealer). The most value on a new car is lost the second you drive it off the lot. I read an article recently that said the best value in a car is one that is three years old. Personally, I try to get a car that has around 50,000 to 80,000 miles on it - I figure it will easily go to 200,000 miles and then, because it is older, I can usually pay cash for it.

7. Like your dad did, I had a friend negotiate a car for me once (I had totaled my car in an accident and I was driving to the lots in a rental car - they were swarming me and I KNEW I wasn't going to get a good deal). The car I bought was used and listed on the lot at $17,000. My friend negotiated it to $10,000 (I know I would NEVER have gotten it that low). But, the car I bought was a Honda Accord and my friend drove a Honda Civic. He said that we were going to get married and after we got married, he was going to come back and trade his civic in for another/differnet Honda. He basically just played hte game and lied through his teeth. The salesman thought he was going to end up with two car sales and so he gave us (me) a great deal.

8. Also, go to the car manufacturer's website. Several years ago, I wanted to buy a specific vehicle and the website was offering a certain finance rate (better than the bank). But, when I went in to buy it, the dealership offered me a rate higher than what the website said it should be. I told them that the website was saying that the rate was X. They went in the back and did their research and came back and offered me that rate.

Good luck!


answers from Dallas on

Have you heard the expression - never let them see you sweat? Don't admit to not being a sophisticated buyer. Never tell them what you want your pymt to be or how much you have to spend, because they will actually raise the price to get you there! Tell them the type of car you are looking for and see what's the best deal they can offer. Negotiate the car with the salesman, then the rest with the finance dept. Start online. Get an idea of what you are looking for based on gas mileage, size, reviews. Go to Shop around and get a few things in mind. Go on kelly blue and check the actual value of the vehicle, so you have some ammo. I knew I wanted a sedan - altima, camry etc based on what I was looking for. I knew the price range they should be. SO, I went in with my guns loaded. I bought a Mazda 6 and could not be happier. Get the GAP insurance. It's standardized by the state now and super cheap. It's very important! Skip the extended warranty.



answers from New York on

Don't play the monthly payment game. One of the biggest games that dealerships like to play is the "how much a month can you afford" game. It doesn't matter how much per month, your there to negotiate the price of a car, not the amount of the payment.

Use this website to help you calculate the amount of your payment. Assuming a $2,500 trade in, $2,000 downpayment, and 5.9% interest rate, 48 payments, you're looking at $15,000 (including tax, title, etc).



answers from Dallas on

Do you homework! Before going into a dealership, research the car(s) you are interesting in purchasing. Try to know more than the salesperson. Also, know the current rebates. I did this. At one dealership I made the sales guy a bit uncomfortable because he wanted to show me the vanity mirror and radio and I wanted to see under the hood and know about the body construction! Don't get me wrong, I know NOTHING about all the things under the hood, but after researching how expensive one car was to fix over the other, I knew some of the things to look for. I never bought the car he was showing and ended up going with another vehicle altogether.

Honestly, do you homework! Know what is important to you.

Good luck!



answers from Pittsburgh on

Consider this--sell your car outright (you'll get more b/c you can ask retail value and not get wholesale value, which is what a dealer will give you on a trade in) then put what you get to your $2K cash and buy a used car outright--no payments!



answers from Dallas on

My husband did the negotionations for our Odyssey. He basically called every Honda dealership and told them "this dealer will do this, what will you do?" and went from there. If you do this method the key phrase to use is "walk out price" meaning FINAL price, all the bs stuff they tack on could drastically change it. He got almost 5K off our Honda, who supposedly "never negotiates" - yea right! He also looked up the cost value of our car and we only paid a few hundred over that price (more w/finance of course) but that's something good to know ahead of time as well (the actual cost of the vehicle). Good luck!!



answers from San Diego on

You got some great advice! The only thing I would add is that places like Costco have contracts with local dealers so you can get the price at the wholesale rate. We went on, got the info and they were contracted with one company. The dealer called us back but was a yerk so we chose not to buy from him. With that knowledge we were able to go to another dealer and get a great deal. Also, don't let them talk you into the extended warranty. A General Manager friend of mine told me that they make tons of money on the mark up and it doesn't cover a lot of things.
Good luck! Do your research and you'll be fine!

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