Every year, there are about 17 million new cars, trucks, and SUVs sold all across the U.S. There are also about 40 million used vehicles sold, both by dealerships and private sellers.
If you’re in the market for a new ride right now, you should take the time to learn about how to save a lot of money while car shopping. You could save yourself hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars simply by taking the right steps. It’ll make your car shopping experience more pleasant overall.
Here are 10 tips that will help you cut your costs when you’re in the market for a new or used vehicle.
1. Start by Deciding Which Kind of Vehicle You Want
There are a lot of people who make a very critical mistake before they even walk onto a dealer’s lot to start car shopping. They fail to figure out what kind of vehicle they want before they start looking around.
Before you start shopping for a vehicle, you should always do your research and find out which car, truck, or SUV you think will work best for you. It’ll help you narrow down your search quickly and allow you to focus on getting the car you want for the best price possible.
2. Shop Around for the Best Deal on Your Preferred Car
Once you’ve decided which car you want to buy, you can start shopping around for it. It’s usually best to begin by looking around online for cars in your general area.
Years ago, you used to have to visit a bunch of car dealerships to check out what they had in stock. But today, you can find a dealership’s inventory by simply logging online and going to their website.
This will allow you to price shop for your preferred car. You can see how much one dealer is selling the car for as compared to other dealers in your area. It’ll give you an advantage once you start getting more serious about your search.
3. Go with a Used Vehicle over a New One If You Can
There’s a certain peace of mind that comes along with buying a brand-new vehicle right off a dealer’s lot. It’s nice to know that you’re the only one who has ever owned a new car.
But you’re going to pay the price if you go with a new car over a used one. A new car will obviously cost more money than one that’s been pre-owned, and it’ll also depreciate a whole lot faster. The average new car depreciates by about 10 percent of its value during the first month you own it.
You can save yourself a lot of money by choosing to go with a used car instead of a new one. As long as the car is in good condition and has been well-maintained, there’s a chance you won’t even realize it’s used when you first get into it.
4. Avoid Buying a Car with Features You Won’t Use
Another critical mistake that people make when shopping for a new car is falling in love with features that they won’t even use. Car salespeople will often try to entice car shoppers by rattling off a bunch of features that sound absolutely amazing when you’re standing next to a new car.
The problem is that not everyone ends up using those features. But they sure do pay the price for having them in their vehicles! They could cost you a bunch of money every month if you decide to finance or even lease your new car.
5. Pay for a Car in Cash If You Can Swing It
Speaking of financing a new car, you should try to avoid doing it at all costs. While financing a car isn’t the worst thing in the world if you can afford to make the monthly payments on it, you’re going to pay more for a financed car than one paid for with cash.
Paying for a car in cash might sound like an impossible task to you. But if you take a few months or even a year to set aside the money you would normally devote to a car payment, you can save up quite a bit of money quickly.
You can use that money to pay for a car with cash and steer clear of all the financing charges that usually come along with buying a car.
6. Try and Negotiate the Price of a Vehicle
Regardless of whether you choose to finance a new car or pay for it outright in cash, you should try to negotiate the price of it down as low as you can get it.
There are some car dealers who won’t play hardball with you and will stick to their asking price. But the majority of them are more than willing to go back and forth on price until you come to an agreement.
It doesn’t matter if you’re not a master negotiator. You can usually knock off at least a few dollars by giving negotiating a try.
7. Trade in Your Old Vehicle to Lower the Price of Your New One
Do you have an old car that you’re not going to use anymore once you get your hands on a new one? There’s no sense in keeping it around if it’s not going to serve a purpose.
You should drive that car down to the lot where you’re thinking about buying your new car and use it as part of your negotiations. Depending on what kind of condition your car is in, you could get anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars for it.
Just make sure you’re getting a fair deal for your old car if you do decide to trade it in. If a dealer is only going to give you a fraction of what it’s actually worth, you might be better off trying to sell it on your own.
8. Look out for Hidden Fees That Might Come with a Car
Before you agree to take ownership of a new car, you should talk to your salesperson and see if there are any hidden fees that come attached to it. More often than not, car dealers will hide a bunch of fees and spring them on you at the last minute.
Ideally, your car salesperson should be upfront and honest with you about any fees associated with a vehicle during negotiations. But if they fall to mention hidden fees, you can walk away from the table and say, “No deal,” due to the fees.
Many dealers will find a way to either waive hidden fees or incorporate them into the price of a vehicle if you make a big enough fuss about it.
9. Stay Patient If You Can’t Find a Car for the Right Price
You should never, ever rush through the car-buying process. Even if you’re desperate to find a new car, you shouldn’t buy a car for more than you’re comfortable spending simply because you happen to be standing on a lot next to it.
If you negotiate the price of a car with a car salesperson and they aren’t able to get the price low enough for you, you shouldn’t hesitate to go home and leave their offer on the table. No matter how much you might love a car, it’s not worth breaking the bank for it.
There will be other cars out there that might be better for you. You just need to stay persistent and keep looking until you find something you like that fits into your current budget.
10. Obtain Lemon Proof Protection for Your New Vehicle
Most of the people who buy brand-new cars instead of used ones do it because they want to get a fresh start with a new vehicle. They don’t want to have to worry about doing any major repairs or maintenance to their cars anytime soon.
But unfortunately, things don’t always work out that way. In some cases, people end up buying what are called “lemons,” which are cars that have major manufacturing defects right from the start.
There are lemon laws in place to protect consumers. But it never hurts to purchase Lemon Proof protection to help you avoid driving around in a lemon that leaves a sour taste in your mouth.
Lemon Proof protection can save you a lot of time and money if you ever buy a lemon.
Know How to Save a Lot of Money Before Shopping for Cars
Shopping for a new car can be a very stressful experience for a lot of people. They sometimes overspend on a car just so they can put an end to the car shopping experience.
It really helps to know how to save a lot of money before you start shopping for cars. It’ll put you in a position of power when you step up to the negotiating table.
Would you like to see some of the ways to save money in other areas of your life? Check out our blog for more money-saving tips.