How to Buy a New Car?!

Updated on August 25, 2009
S.R. asks from Clovis, NM
5 answers

Hello everyone! My husband and I are in the market for a new car, but we have never bought one from a dealership before, and are a bit intimidated by the whole process. We always bought through the military, where you just pay what they tell you. I wonder if any of you could give me some advice on the whole thing, like how much should we try to get knocked off the price. We are looking at a Mazda 6, with a sticker price of about $23,000. We are pre-approved for financing, and we don't want to trade in a vehicle. I would appreciate any advice, or tips on what to look out for. Thank you!

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answers from Dallas on

I sold cars for 4 years and have lot of family in the business, and it seems to me the cheapest way to buy a car these days is online. Every dealership has an online department that you can email back and forth. If you email all of the local dealerships and get their best prices (this way you have it in writing) then you can present them to the dealership closest to your home. Most all dealerships this day in time with honor other dealers prices.

If a dealership sends you a high price and then another dealership sends you a price that is lower maybe even email back the higher dealership and see if they will come down. It is really all about negotiation! One thing to be sure of is that you are comparing apples to apples, so make sure that the cars that each dealership is giving you a price on have the same MSRP or the same options.

Good luck and happy shopping =)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My best advice is to take an hour or two to research the type of car you want to buy. is my bible when it comes to car shopping. Their True Market Value tool is a great resource. I just read a very interesting article about the interworkings of dealerships these days. Here's a link if you're interested:

Good luck!


answers from Dallas on

I hate buying cars. All I can say is be ready to walk out.

We just got another new car 2 weeks ago and after all the numbers were done, and we went to sign the paper, the agent THEN started trying to sell all types of warranties. That is such a turnoff. They are required by law, however, to tell you about this because some people come back with the excuse of "you never old me that"

You can get the MSRP and invoice pricing online. I forgot the website but you can see the invoice. Ask to see it as well.

We are not into financing cars except for a possible short term of 6 months or so. If you finance, make sure there are no fees for early payoff, etc.

As for the dealer, it is hard to find one you trust. We do have a dealer/rep we trust and we have purchased 2 cars from him. He is straightforward, knows what we like and respects our boundaries when we say "this is what we will pay". We will be purchasing again within 4 yrs from the same rep when my daughter inherits my car.

I don't know what Mazda dealership you are planning to go to. We did purchase a new Mazda Miata a few years ago from Town North Mazda and I will say that the service department was excellent there. I never needed anything but routine service but we were treated well. As for the sales staff, I steer away from them and hubby does all the talking. I just bring the checkbook.

Just maintain your composure, stick to your guns and you will be fine. A lot of good car dealers get a bad rap just because there are some shady ones out there.

Good luck and enjoy your new car!



answers from Dallas on

Check out the website for Kelly Blue Book:

It will give you the sticker price, invoice price, and the price that you should be able to get that car for in this area. It is great to go in there and have the info you need to be sure you get a good deal. Also, DO NOT tell them you are trading in a car until you have set a price on the car you are buying. That way you know exactly how much you are paying for the new car and how much you are getting for your old. You can also find the fair trade-in value on KBB for your old vehicle.

Oh yeah, if you are financing, do the same as you do with the trade in. Get the price for the car, then talk financing rates, etc. Often people are sucked into their monthly payment not knowing that they are paying WAY too much for the car or have a high interest rate. When I bought my 1st car I had a dealership give me a monthly payment that made the principle of the loan higher than the sticker. Of course I walked right out of the dealership and went someplace else!!

Do all you can to educate yourself before going in!! Good luck!!



answers from Dallas on

Hi S.,

Someone asked a similar question on mamasource about a year ago. She got a lot of good advice. Here is the link to the post and the responses for your reference:

I read back through my response to her and it all pretty much still applies so here's my 2 cents:

If you're buying new, please know that invoice price is NOT dealer cost. The salesman will try to make you think getting the vehicle slightly above or at invoice is a GREAT deal. That still can be thousands over dealer cost.

Whenever I get ready to buy a car, I check the car ads for several weeks ahead of time to see where the "loss leaders" fall on the car that I want. That way I know at some time in the not so distant past what the least selling price was for the car that I wanted. I even save those ads and take them with me for reference sometimes. If there is an exceptional deal on the car you want, but you get there and they say that car is gone, don't be afraid to ask if they will give you the same discount on another vehicle. A "good" dealership will do that.

Shop for the car you want ahead of time, but don't buy until the last day of the month if you can manage it. Every time I've done that, on the closing table, something has come up like if I want the extended warranty, but after I've haggled them all the way down to close to their cost, the price is still more than I want to pay, I've gotten them to knock several hundred more dollars off the price of the vehicle to make up for the "unexpected" expense of the warranty because I'll say something like "Well, I budgeted for this amount so I guess we won't be able to buy the car." They look shocked and say "So you won't do the deal if we can't give you an extra $300 off the price of the warranty?" and I'll say "No, I have a budget and I have to stick to it so I guess not." Very quickly thereafter, they are knocking that $300 or whatever off that so-called "rock bottom price" on the vehicle. This might not happen on any other day than the last day of the month though so keep that in mind.

In terms of price, if there are no good "sales" on the car that I want being advertised, my general rule is to never pay more than $3000 under sticker. So if a Toyota Camry stickers at $25,000, I won't pay more than $22,000 regardless of "invoice". Furthermore, if they only have a model that has more features than I actually want, I subtract the cost for those additional features in my offer. So, if my $25000 Camry has $1000 in features that I don't want, my offer is then $21,000. This "cash price" offer is BEFORE any rebates or other incentives that are offered. So, if there is a $1500 rebate on that Camry, the price would then be $19,500.

Also, I never tell them I have a trade until I work out the "cash price". Then I bring up a trade if I have one. You should know the trade-in value of your car, which you can get on NADA or KBB, and don't let them try to give you less than trade-in value. If they do, be prepared to walk away from the deal.

In terms of financing, I have always found it best to get my financing outside of the dealership. You can go through your bank or credit union or even Costco or Sams on-line and get a better rate than the dealership will offer you initially. The last time we bought a car, we told them we were paying cash. Then, at the closing table, we told them we were actually going to finance it through our credit union and I had a letter from the credit union with all the info they needed to fund the car. The dealership asked me the rate they were giving me and said they couldn't beat that. On a previous vehicle purchase when I used a check I'd gotten from an on-line car loan deal, the dealership said they didn't take that type of check but could finance it for a quarter percent more than the rate I had gotten with the on-line deal but that's the best they could do. I said no, that if they couldn't match it, I would stick with the deal I had gotten with the on-line lender. The dealership magically matched the rate.

Most car companies are hurting right now so if you're diligent, you should be able to get the deal you want. Using and to get average pricing for the area is a good start, and in general, the people who've said do most of your work on the Internet before you even go into the dealership are right.

My friend was looking to buy a Camry, contacted the on-line sales manager through the website, we went in, did all the things I mentioned above, and she not only got the car for about $3500 less than sticker, they also threw in a sun roof on top of that.

Now, in regards to your question about making sure they don't sneak anything in on the paperwork, the way I check is I bring my own business calculator to the deal. I have a $30 TI business calculator and I just input the present value, the interest rate, the length of the loan and determine both payment amount and future value. If their numbers are not almost exactly like mine, I know something is up. I've done that with almost every deal I've ever worked and in all but maybe one case, I've found mistakes. One time the finance manager argued with me that my little cheap calculator couldn't match up to their expensive computer system, but when he took off the stuff that wasn't supposed to be on there, it matched exactly. He never apologized for being condescending or trying to sneak in that other stuff either. If you get a business calculator, or have one, and want to know how to determine those values, just PM me and I'll give you step by step instructions.

Here's my most important piece of advice, I WOULD NEVER BUY FROM VANDERGRIFF TOYOTA IN ARLINGTON AGAIN. I had a terrible experience with them that ended up in the hands of the BBB and was never resolved. They have a LOT of complaints against them through the BBB and while the report states "the dealership has been responsive to all complaints", I spoke with the BBB manager directly and stated they needed to change that wording because they were far from RESPONSIVE. They may have responded to all complaints, but they were definitely not RESPONSIVE. The manager agreed with me and was going to look into changing the wording on the report. So, please do not buy from VANDERGRIFF TOYOTA in Arlington.

I hope some of this info helps. We've bought many cars and I've helped several other people buy cars as well. It can be stressful, so try to give yourself the biggest advantage you can by buying at the end of the month and doing lots of research whenever possible.

Good luck!


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