In previous posts I’ve talked about what to bring when buying a car. And as I always mention, the most important item to bring with you to the Finance Office is a pre-negotiated deal for the price of the car.
But once you arrive, there is still some negotiation to be done. To truly get the best deal you have to negotiate more than car price. You also have to be prepared to get the best deal on financing and add-ons (if you decide to get any). The Finance Office is a huge profit center for car dealerships, so you must be ready to negotiate in order to keep some of the dealer’s profit in your own pocket.
Must have items to close at the dealership
Expectation that the deal is not done. Don’t let down your guard yet, the negotiation dance is not over. Many people walk into the Finance Office after they settle on price and assume the paperwork is just a formality. However, there’s still plenty of money to be saved or lost on a deal.
Your trade-in. If you have the energy and inclination to sell your car privately you’ll likely get more money than at the dealership. However, consider selling to the dealership if the amount is close to what you could get selling on your own. One of the key benefits of selling your trade-in to the dealership is the tax savings. Most states allow you to deduct the amount you receive for your car from the sales price of the new car for tax calculations.
- Knowledge of your credit score (and what interest rate you’re likely to qualify for). Auto financing is a big part of your negotiations and you should find out in advance what are the best finance terms you can hope to receive. Knowing your credit score will allow you to look online and see what interest rates should be available to you.
- A pre-approved letter or check. In order to negotiate finance terms, you’ll need some leverage. Get pre-approved online and you’ll be able to take a blank check or letter with you to the dealership to pay for your car. Ask the Finance Manger to beat your outside financing terms, and if he can’t then just use the outside lender’s check.
- A “no-can-do” attitude. In the Finance Office you’ll be pressured into buying a variety of dealer add-ons and extras that you don’t really need. Don’t feel bad turning down options like VIN etching, rust proofing, paint sealant etc. These are all useless moneymakers for the dealership. Be prepared to say no and resist a smooth sales pitch.
- An extended warranty offer from outside the dealership (if you want one at all that is). An extended warranty is essentially a maintenance contract for your car. Some can be worth the expense and most are not. If you do want a warranty, shop around online before going to the dealership. Warranties are marked up with considerable profit for the dealership. If you do find an outside warranty, bring the terms with you and ask the dealership if they can give you a better offer. Again, if they can’t, feel free to buy your warranty elsewhere.
- Your own insurance policy. Like everything else, dealerships make money selling you insurance policies but there is no reason to purchase one through the dealership. You don’t have to change insurance when you buy a new car, but it’s a good time to shop around and get competitive rates. Check Esurance or Geico to see if they offer lower rates than your current provider. If they do, give your current provider a chance to beat or match the best policy you find.