Buying a car; overwhelmed

TheMonarch

macrumors 65816
Original poster
May 6, 2005
1,469
1
Bay Area
Hello all :)

I'm planning on getting a car (used, probably) soon, and aside from all the car research I've been doing, its the process of buying the car thats getting to me.

This'll my first dealer car purchase I'll be doing, and I have no idea what to expect. So I ask you:

Did you have all financing secured before you went to the dealer?
How long did you shop around for before making your purchase?
Did you haggle a lot to get what you want?
What tips would you give to avoid being ripped-off?
Is buying a car really as unpleasant as it sounds?

I've done quite a bit of research, but I would still love to hear from anyone more experienced than me :D

Thanks
 

djellison

macrumors 68020
Feb 2, 2007
2,229
4
Pasadena CA
Get the finance in place before you go looking. It would be very rare for a dealer to offer better credit rates than competitively sourced loan.

We picked up our new car ( 18 month old Seat Leon ) on Tuesday. We spent about a month identifying the make and model we wanted, and then kept hunting for that make and model until one with the right spec, age, mileage, and price came to market - and we went for it.

There's not much haggling to be had nowadays - buyers are better informed than ever before, and dealers can't afford to try and rip you off.

I would buy, if possible, from a big car dealership - preferably a main manufacturers dealership ( our Seat came from a VW dealership ) - so that you have a respectable firm to go back to if there are problems. Many of them will offer a warranty of 90 days. Our car even has 18 months manufacturers warranty remaining which is useful. You may be a bit more for buying from them - but you do get a little bit of piece of mind doing it that way.

But yeah - it's not exactly an enjoyable experience. But once you get the keys - it's awesome :)

What are you looking at getting.
 

TheMonarch

macrumors 65816
Original poster
May 6, 2005
1,469
1
Bay Area
Thank you so much for the input! :)

I'm looking at a reliable, reasonably priced sedan under 20k (USD).

Ideally that car would:
Be very reliable
Achieve higher mpg than my current car, 21city/30hwy
Have leather seats
AUX jack for my iPod :D
Under 50k miles

I found a 2007 Accord Hybrid that fits the bill quite nicely, except for the iPod connectivity part, but I'm a little worried about buying a discontinued car with such a short lifecycle (Only 25k sold in the US). Also, the carfax report shows a damage report, though the vehicle has a clean title :confused:
 

pukifloyd

macrumors 6502a
Jun 25, 2008
987
85
Scottsdale
steal $5k from somewhere and buy a new camaro 2010(base model starts from $23k) :D


When I bought my car, I just went to the 2-3 dealers in the area and bought the best one I could find on the same day within 4 hours:D didnt do any research as I just came to the country and needed a car urgently!
 

r1ch4rd

macrumors 6502a
Aug 5, 2005
980
1
Manchester UK
...except for the iPod connectivity part...
You can always add a third party stereo to get that. When I bought my car it had a terrible radio, but for around £100 I got a much nicer one with a proper iPod connector which means you can play, control and charge the iPod through the stereo interface.
 

kellen

macrumors 68020
Aug 11, 2006
2,363
56
Seattle, WA
Have you looked at a Prius?

For financing I would definitely set it up in advance. I went through a credit union, rates were much cheaper. Then they just clear you for a set amount, usually way more then you need. Find your car, set a price, get the check and then they want copies of titles and all that.

If you are looking for that kind of mileage in a car, I think you might want to start with diesels and hybrids. Mercedes has a nice e class diesel, and the jetta is available in diesel as well.
 

Lyle

macrumors 68000
Jun 11, 2003
1,874
1
Madison, Alabama
How long did you shop around for before making your purchase?
Did you haggle a lot to get what you want?
What tips would you give to avoid being ripped-off?
Is buying a car really as unpleasant as it sounds?
Having bought several cars over the years, I've gotten pretty good at negotiating a good deal for myself, but it's still almost always "unpleasant" to some degree. There tends to be a lot of back-and-forth, where the dealer allegedly has to go talk to his manager to get counteroffers, etc. It's just a big game that you play, but it can be nerve-wracking the first time. If you have a friend who has been through the process before and can tag along with you for moral support, that would probably help.

It sounds like you've done good research up-front, and that's good. Take print-outs from Edmunds or Kelley Blue Book to the dealership with you if you need backup for your negotiating stance (i.e. when the dealer asks "And where did you come up with that number?")

Finally, given the state of the economy, this is a good time to be buying a car (in my opinion). You definitely have the upper hand right now, so be prepared to walk away if you feel like you're getting the run-around from a dealer. There is someone else out there who wants that sale if he doesn't.

Good luck!
 

djellison

macrumors 68020
Feb 2, 2007
2,229
4
Pasadena CA
so be prepared to walk away if you feel like you're getting the run-around from a dealer. There is someone else out there who wants that sale if he doesn't.
We had exactly that. If we'd have stayed with the first dealer we spoke to - we'd have been £2500 worse off. They were looking for £14000+ for the car we were after. We found it for about £11500.
 

mscriv

macrumors 601
Aug 14, 2008
4,917
596
Dallas, Texas
Did you have all financing secured before you went to the dealer?
How long did you shop around for before making your purchase?
Did you haggle a lot to get what you want?
If you can secure financing ahead of time then you are in a better position to bargain/haggle because to the dealer you are a cash customer and in the world of wheeling and dealing cash is king. Do not be afraid to walk away. Give a number, email, or contact method and walk away if the deal is just not what you want. Tell them, I'm interested, however, your current offer is just not good enough. I'm going to buy in the next X days so if you decide you want my business then let me know. As long as you're not asking for something outrageous I bet you get a call.

What tips would you give to avoid being ripped-off?
You've already taken the first step in not getting ripped off and that's doing your research. Know what you are looking for and what is reasonable. This means knowing about price, features, possible recalls or common problems, reliability, and seller reputation. It sounds like you are already familiar with Carfax so that's good. However, the best way to make sure of the vehicles condition is to have it independently evaluated before you buy. Most dealerships will allow for this if you are buying used, but it will be at your own expense. I know several people who have been thankful they spent that $100 on a vehicle inspection because it turned up things that would have cost $1000's in repairs if they had gone through with the purchase.

Is buying a car really as unpleasant as it sounds?
It's only unpleasant if this kind of stuff makes you nervous or you have a hard time with social boundaries. Sales people are sales people, that doesn't mean they are all trying to rip you off or they all use pressure tactics. Set your boundaries and be up front about your goals. You can always walk away if you don't feel something is right or are being treated inappropriately. Taking a friend is not a bad idea, if nothing else than for the company. I hope it all works out and keep us posted. :)
 

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