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8 Pieces of Wisdom…

July 31, 2010

Let me introduce you to our new baby, isn’t he cute? This is our new 2009 Saturn Vue. I guess I really have nothing exciting to say about the car itself, aside from the fact that we love it. It’s graphite and chrome with a tan leather interior…it doesn’t get much better than that. It was everything we were looking for and more. Planning to look yourself? Well, don’t set out for the car lot without reading through the 8 Things Car Shopping Taught Us….

1. Know the TMV of the model you are interested in. TMV stands for True Market Value and you can easily look it up by taking a few minutes to do an appraisal at Edmunds.com. This will tell you what the car is actually worth, so that you know how much the dealer has it marked up, and can then determine what type of offer you want to make.

2. To make yourself even more prepared, check the dealers website for specific vehicles. At Edmunds.com you can get the exact value of the vehicle you may want to buy. You can plug in all the features it has (Leather, Sunroof, etc), the exact mileage and even the color in order to get the most accurate TMV possible. If you have this information on you, its hard for the dealer to give you a bad deal.

3. Look at your finances and go in with set goals. Determine what loan length is best for you—–in most cases 48-months is considered smart, it doesn’t stretch the loan out too long and it can save you a lot of interest. Also determine what exactly you can afford in a monthly payment. Trust me, they will try to sway you into paying more for the car by telling that you can “Hit your $200 monthly payment goal by taking the loan from 48 months to 60 months.” This is one of the ways they’ll try to make that $20,000 price tag look more appealing, but know what you can and want to pay, and stick to it. If they want the car driving off the lot, they’ll compromise.

4. No matter how fun it sounds to ride off into the sunset with the car you just test drove, be prepared to walk away if they don’t give you a deal you are comfortable with. They will get you inside and have you fill out tons of paperwork before they begin negotiating prices. Of course this makes you think “I already did all the paperwork, I might as well leave with the car…” And that’s what they want you to think. Our first night of test driving we found the perfect car, but the price was about $2,000 above what we wanted to spend. It was also at least $1,500 above the TMV of the vehicle…..so, since we knew the accurate TMV for that exact vehicle, we knew they had it priced up and could negotiate if they wanted to. The moral of the story is that they didn’t come down far enough, so we got up and left {yes, even after filling out 30-minutes worth of paper work}.

5. They’ll call you. 20-minutes after we walked out of that dealership, the dealer called us and offered us the exact same car, but in a different color, for the exact price we had offered. When we inquired why the white car would be cheaper than the black, he finally admitted that the black one was new to the lot and they weren’t willing to drop the price on something that hadn’t been out there very long. Okay, fair enough. We kept looking. {But just for the record he called again today.}

6. A lot of car dealerships are along highways, and summer is a great time for those highways to be under construction. So use that to your advantage when car shopping. A quick google search can tell you some nearby highways that are dug up, and some car dealerships that likely have hurting revenues because traffic is being detoured around them. Go find those dealerships, that’s what we did. Sure, we might have had to take a little road trip to Hastings, MN, but we knew they had the exact car we wanted and that they’d be willing to negotiate given the fact that they were almost entirely closed off to Hwy 61 due to construction. And we were right, we had to come a little above our “goal price” but we felt like we got a fabulous deal.

7. Check the vehicle history. Whether you do it yourself online, or ask them for a full report {which they have to disclose to you}, you want to know whether the car has been in any serious accidents. Having an accident in its history doesn’t necessarily mean the car isn’t worth it— but knowing the facts can help you negotiate a better price.

8. Once you’ve settled on a price, don’t stop negotiating. After we had agreed on our purchase price I got another $250 knocked off because the miles were higher than what was advertised online. I also got them to repair two minor imperfections and detail the entire car one more time. Once you say “I’ll take it!” they are willing to do just about anything to make sure you do “take it” and leave happy. The worst they can do is say no, so be sure to ask for those little extras.

Just as a disclaimer, I’m an expert on shopping but far from an expert on car shopping. These are a few little pieces of wisdom we picked up along the way, so I’ll send them on to you. Happy Hunting!

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