It’s understood that new car dealers don’t exist as non-profit organizations, though you should still try to get the best price you can. Have a look at the following guidelines when you’re buying a new car.
Configure online. You may already do this just for fun, but online configuration at a manufacturer’s website often includes a search function to find similarly-equipped vehicles at dealers around your area. Heaping helpings of options is fun in theory, but be realistic when you build your own for real. You can avoid equipment packages you’ll never miss anyway and potentially save thousands.
Cast a wide net. The one-time cost and effort to transact with a distant dealer can be worth it when there are hundreds or even thousands to save. Look also into delivery, as more outlets are offering this service. You can even coordinate and pay for transport on your own if the savings are significant enough. Even if it does mean a road trip, what better way to get acquainted with your new car?
In with the old? Whether a model receives a facelift or complete redesign, dealers don’t want the outgoing models taking up lot space. As consumers we’re conditioned to believe newer is better. That can be true, but not always and not significantly. If you’re not hung up on having the newest look available--especially when it amounts to little more than a revised grille or color options--and don’t mind choosing from on-hand dealer inventory, the savings can add up.
Timing. Closeout sales can mean appealing finance or rebate deals, but this doesn’t only happen at year-end the way it once did. New models are released throughout the year, so keep abreast of once you have your short list of car candidates. End-of-calendar year timing can still net some good deals, but so can periods around the end of a month or quarter.
Incentives. Call it cash back, factory-to-dealer program, rebate or whatever. Manufacturer-based incentives when buying a new car are a zero-effort way to get the best price. Be sure the dealer subtracts the rebate from the negotiated bottom-line rather than factor it in to arrive at that number.
Factory financing. Don’t stop at rebates. Investigate what other bonuses can be had with factory financing. Not everyone qualifies for the zero interest plans advertised, but competitive rates can still be had regardless. If it comes down to a choice between zero interest or cash back, run the numbers both ways. In many cases, though it sounds counterproductive, you can come out ahead by taking the rebate and sacrificing zero interest for very low interest.
Trade? What trade? When the dealer begins chatting with you, an early question will be about your trade-in. Work first on getting the best price for the new car you’re buying, period. With early knowledge of a trade, the dealer could fiddle with figures to give you a sweet deal on the new car while lowering the bid on your existing car. Reserve the right to sell the old car yourself for a higher return than trade-in value.