We all want to get a great deal on the next car we buy, whether the vehicle is new or used. But how can you be sure that you’ve gotten the best possible deal? Believe it or not, there are some telltale signs that you can look for to tell you whether or not a vehicle you have your eye on is worth snatching up. Some of the signs are financial, others concern the mechanics of the vehicle, and some signs involve human nature and the sales staff where you purchase your next car, truck, van or sport utility vehicle (SUV). Make sure to look for these signs the next time you go car shopping.
10. Less Than 4 Years Old
As a general rule of thumb, you want to avoid buying a vehicle that is more than four years old or more. However, if a car you have your eye on is three years old or less, chances are it is worth considering. This is because cars that are less than four years old are usually still sound mechanically, and, in most cases, do not have a lot of miles on them. In other good news, the cost for a car that is one, two or three years old has likely come down significantly, compared to if you bought the vehicle brand new. You can probably expect to pay anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 less for a car that is a few years old, even though it is still likely to be in tip-top shape. However, once a car is four or five years old, it begins to degrade faster, and mechanical problems are more likely to occur. Therefore, buying a vehicle before it gets to that point is advisable.
9. Still Covered By The Manufacturer’s Warranty
Another advantage of purchasing a car that is only a couple of years old is that it is still likely to be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. Even if the vehicle only has one year of warranty left when you buy it, that’s still 12 months of worry-free driving for you. Then, if anything happens to the car during that year, you can take it back to the dealership for needed repairs, and it won’t cost you any additional money. Choose a car that is no longer under warranty, however, and it is buyer beware. Remember that warranty coverage is dependent on the age of a vehicle or its mileage, so be sure to check both before signing on the dotted line. It is always advisable to buy a car that has some warranty coverage left, even if it is only a few months. The last thing you want is for a car you buy to break down on the drive home from the lot.
8. Low Mileage
While a newer car is usually preferable, low mileage is more important than the age of a car. If your choice is between a five-year-old car that has 30,000 miles on the odometer and a three-year-old car that has 60,000 miles, you’re probably better off taking the vehicle with less mileage. This is because there is less wear and tear on cars that haven’t been driven as much. Mechanically, an older vehicle with low mileage will be in better shape than a newer one that has been driven hard and racked up a lot of miles. Cars that are old but have low miles tell you that the vehicle most likely spent a lot of time sitting in a garage, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, provided the car was well maintained. Vehicles that are only a couple of years old but have a ton of miles on the tires, on the other hand, are likely headed for a breakdown.
7. The Dealership Is Willing To Negotiate
A lot of salesmen at car dealerships will tell you that they don’t negotiate on the vehicles they sell. You should immediately turn and walk away from those people. To get a good deal on a car you buy always requires a negotiation. Period. Make sure you find a dealership staffed by people who are willing to answer your questions and negotiate, and not just on the price. Many other things related to a car you buy should be negotiable, from an extended warranty to having a DVD player installed (or not). If you find yourself speaking with a salesperson who is inflexible, impatient or unwilling to meet you halfway on certain things, then bolt. In these cases, you`re basically wasting your time. There`s no good deal to be had.
6. Has Just Arrived On The Lot
If you regularly pass a car lot and notice that a particular vehicle has been sitting there for a long time, chances are there`s a problem with it. Quality cars that are in great shape and meet the criteria on this list don`t tend to sit around for long periods of time. They sell pretty quick. It is therefore important to know when vehicles arrive at a car lot near your home or work. Give the lot a telephone call and ask them what days they tend to get new vehicles. Better yet, tell the car dealership what type of vehicle you`re looking for and your price range. They`ll be more than happy to give you a call back when a vehicle matching your criteria arrives. Another advantage of getting to a car when it first reaches a car lot is that you can negotiate a good price. In most instances, the salespeople will be more flexible if they think it will mean a quick sale for them and a reduction in their inventory.
5. Little Extras Thrown In
Most people are surprised at what they can get thrown in when negotiating a car deal. A remote car starter, a set of winter tires, floor mats, satellite radio, you name it, it might be on the table. A lot of times, sales staff are more willing to throw in little extras such as these rather than lower the price too dramatically. If the car lot has things laying around that don’t come standard, but that could be useful to you, then dealers will often include them in an effort to appease you. The key is that you have to ask for these extras. Don`t expect the salesperson you`re dealing with to offer them to you. But if you ask, and are persistent, you may be surprised at what you can have thrown in to sweeten the pot as you decide whether to buy a car or not.
4. A Cheap Or Free Extended Warranty
Speaking of negotiating for extras, how about an extended warranty? An extended warranty can be extremely valuable for a second hand vehicle, especially if the manufacturer`s warranty has expired or is about to expire. And chances are, you`re going to end up sitting in the office of the business manager at the dealership listening to him or her try and sell you on purchasing an extended warranty for the car you want. This is when you want to bargain with them, and try to get the price of the extended warranty lowered. Best case scenario, you might even get the extended warranty for free. Trust us when we say that the price of extended warranties is always negotiable. Just watch how fast the price on an extended warranty drops when you reject the first price quoted by the business manager.
3. Zero Interest Payments
There are many ways to finance the purchase of a vehicle. But however you go about it, getting financing that has zero percent interest is always preferred. Often times, dealerships will offer zero percent interest when financing a vehicle purchase as a way to drive sales. If you are going to finance through the dealership where you buy the car, then be sure that they aren’t charging you any interest. This will keep the total cost of the vehicle lower and likely save you thousands of dollars. But beware of tricks car dealers play with their no interest offers. Many will offer no interest for two or three years and then apply an extremely high interest rate in the final years of a finance agreement, sometimes as high as 7.5% or more. In this way, the dealer ends up recovering the interest you didn’t pay in the first years of the financing deal. Zero interest financing is great, provided it works for you.
2. One All-In Price
The best thing to negotiate at any car dealership is an all-in price. This means that you pay one price for the vehicle that includes taxes and any other applicable licensing and administrative fees. Too often car dealerships quote you a price only to raise that price significantly at the last minute by adding in taxes and other fees they neglected to tell you about. When you make an offer on a car you want, be sure to add the words “all in” after it. This will tell the salesperson you`re dealing with that you`re serious, experienced and only willing to pay so much money for the vehicle. Always be ready to walk away if the sales staff play games or jerk you around on the total price of the car.
1. The Look On The Salesperson`s Face
All of the aforementioned signs will help to tell you if you got a good deal on the car you’ve bought. However, nothing will drive the point home more than the look on the face of the salesperson you just finished haggling with. If the salesperson looks stressed, exhausted and upset it is because you just got yourself a great deal on a car. On the other hand, if they look smug, self-satisfied and happy, chances are they feel that they pulled a fast one over on you. Remember that human nature plays a part in any negotiation, and that salespeople are human like the rest of us. If you got a steal on a vehicle, they`ll let you know. You`ll see it in their eyes.