If your prehistoric junker has finally driven its last mile, or if you’ve been researching new cars to buy for months on end, a trip to your local auto dealership looms just over the horizon. (Congratulations!)
For lots of shoppers, however, even thinking about purchasing or leasing a vehicle can launch their blood pressure through the roof. The haggling, negotiating, down payments, paperwork… everything about buying a car can be stressful for the average person.
So, how does one get through the entire car-buying process with all their hair intact? What’s the best way to shop for and buy a car? Store these 21 great tips in your brain’s filing cabinet to ensure you don’t get too frustrated when shopping for and buying your new vehicle.
21. Know Your Budget
Your heart may crave that new Toyota Sequoia in Toasted Walnut Pearl, but what does your head say? If your budget doesn’t support a purchase that big, don’t even try to convince yourself otherwise. You may just end up with an upside-down car loan, and that’s much less enjoyable than a more affordable pineapple upside-down cake.
But how do you calculate your budget when buying a new car?
Most experts recommend spending less than 25% of your monthly income on all the vehicles in your driveway. This includes monthly lease or finance payments, insurance fees, registration costs, and any costs associated with fuel and auto maintenance. You can also use our online car payment calculator to help you determine your budget before even setting foot in our Sedalia Toyota dealership.
20. Buy vs. Lease
Do you know whether you want to finance (buy) or lease a new vehicle?
- You should look into buying a new car if:
- You drive more than 12,000 miles annually;
- You like building equity and selling or trading in your vehicles;
- You have enough for a down payment;
- Your credit rating is excellent;
- You like to add aftermarket parts and accessories to your cars;
- You’re good at keeping up with repairs and maintenance; and
- You can pay more each month, as financing a car can be more expensive than leasing in the short term.
On the other hand, you should consider leasing a new vehicle if:
- You want lower monthly payments;
- You don’t have an adequate down payment on hand;
- You like the convenience of having a vehicle always under warranty;
- You keep a tidy car, inside and out;
- Your love for the latest technology knows no bounds;
- You enjoy getting a new car every few years; and
- You don’t drive too often/too many miles each year.
For more tips on choosing to finance or lease a car, check this thorough article at https://cars.usnews.com/.
19. New vs. Used vs. Certified Pre-Owned
Similarly, do you know if you’d like your vehicle new, pre-owned, or something in between?
You’ll pay more overall for a new car than you would a used or CPO vehicle, but you’re also benefitting from the newest technology, better fuel economy, advanced safety features, and a full New Vehicle Warranty. If those are important to you, consider buying a new vehicle, like a Toyota Corolla.
With a used vehicle, your wallet will thank you. However, you won’t always be guaranteed a warranty or any of the modern features available in newer vehicles. If you do choose to go pre-owned, we suggest researching and test-driving the best used vehicles you can find before making a decision.
Certified pre-owned vehicles are great options for shoppers who enjoy the reliability of a new car at a used-car price. For instance, every affordable Certified Pre-Owned Toyota at our dealership is a late-model vehicle that’s been inspected and comes backed with an extended warranty.
18. Research, Research, Research
As mentioned above, it’s imperative that you do your due diligence and research every vehicle of interest to you. What are their 5-year value estimates? Are there any ongoing recalls with each particular model? Do any of the vehicles have features that you absolutely need? What have owners said about these models? Has anything changed from the previous model year?
Narrow down your selection to the top 5, follow up with step 27 (below), then visit local car dealerships near you to take each for a test drive.
17. Apply for Auto Loans
Always review current interest rates and secure your auto financing before going into the dealership. You can apply for car loans online at most dealership sites, including right here at McCarthy Toyota of Sedalia in Missouri, as well as at local credit unions or banks.
Oh – and get your quote in writing! There’s nothing worse than picking out the perfect vehicle, only to discover that your financing fell through because nothing was ever formalized.
16. Check for Incentives and Sales
Do you know if your dealership has any cash-back promotions, lease incentives, or exclusive discounts that apply to the vehicle you’d like to buy? Have you checked the vehicle manufacturer’s official website for current offers? Sometimes deals stack, too, which is something you should absolutely take advantage of.
15. Shop Everywhere
As much as we’d love to say, “Only shop at our Sedalia car dealership,” we can’t do so with a clean conscience. It’s important to shop around to find the best rates, pricing, and dealer to handle your sale or lease. Having a quality relationship with your auto dealer is equally as essential as price, too.
14. Negotiate Confidently
When the time comes to sit down at the negotiating table, let your salesperson know that you’re all business. (Easier said than done, right?)
Be confident. You hold all the power in this transaction, even if you don’t feel powerful. Throw out a low number to start. If the salesperson bites, you didn’t go low enough. If the salesperson won’t budge, walk away. If the salesperson brings the price down to your level – well, you’ve just successfully negotiated your next car purchase.
13. Add Add-ons Sparingly
Although we like offering our customers the best Toyota vehicles with the best Toyota features, we realize that add-ons and accessories can get expensive. So, as much as it pains us to say this, we suggest purchasing add-ons if they help your day-to-day commute, provide more safety, or make life more convenient. Do you need GPS navigation? It could help if you travel to new places frequently, but if you barely leave the sanctity of your living room or office, your smartphone probably suffices.
12. Get a Mechanic’s Advice
When buying a used car, you should consider getting it looked at by a qualified third-party mechanic. A mechanic can inspect the vehicle for potential issues, which will give you more leverage to negotiate a better price – if you even want to continue with that purchase.
11. Know the Lingo
Like any industry, dealers and salespeople have their own language. If you don’t speak that language, you may have a difficult time getting the best deal. Review industry terms and common phrases here.
10. Don’t Grow Too Attached
You really wanted to drive that beautiful Toyota RAV4 home, but something just didn’t click – and that’s okay because there are plenty of four-wheeled fish in the sea! If, for whatever reason, you can’t come to terms on your top pick, search elsewhere. Don’t go over your budget or sacrifice anything just to be able to claim a victory. Oftentimes that victory turns into a defeat.
9. Don’t be Afraid to Walk Away
Again, you have the power. If you aren’t satisfied with your experience at the dealership or with a salesperson, calmly stand up and walk right out those doors. You don’t even need to utter a word – powerful people speak with their actions, right?
8. Embrace Suggested “Alternatives”
Traditional and modern shoppers, like yourself, will typically visit our Sedalia car dealership with a particular model in mind. However, don’t automatically turn a cold shoulder to the idea of buying a different vehicle. Salespeople may recommend alternative models with features that better match your wishlist, budget, and situation.
For instance, if stock is low on Toyota C-HR SUVs, prices may be higher; but if your dealer has a big selection of RAV4 crossovers for sale, you may be able to get one for the same price as the C-HR. Ask and ye shall receive (suggestions, at least).
7. Always Double Check Paperwork
Tiny print. Missed signatures. Amended terms. If you don’t check these out, they may haunt you. Don’t sign papers that have errors or terms you didn’t agree to; contracts are difficult to break.
If at all possible, attempt to complete some of the paperwork online. This allows you to take your time reviewing documents, while also speeding up your purchase at the dealership.
6. Read Dealership Reviews
If your chosen dealership lacks good customer reviews, there may be a reason why. Be sure to read the reviews to see if there’s a common thread between bad ratings. Oftentimes, customers will share common complaints about an aspect of the dealership that wouldn’t impact you and your new car purchase, such as poor recall repair support or long waiting times.
Read about our Sedalia car dealership and see our reviews online.
5. Try Refinancing
Did you know you can refinance an existing car loan? Depending on when your original financing went through, you may be able to get a better auto loan with a lower interest rate. After purchasing your vehicle, check auto finance rates every few months to see if refinancing is a good option.
4. Get Auto Insurance Quotes Before Buying
Request quotes from your insurance agent for each vehicle model you’re interested in. You should also consider requesting quotes from multiple auto insurance companies to ensure you’re getting the best rate available.
3. Don’t Assume
Never assume that something should be a certain way. If you want a specific feature in your Toyota Avalon, ask about it. If you want that gift card or free oil change for taking a test drive, ask about it. If you want to sign up for that 3-month trial of SiriusXM Radio, ask about it. Otherwise, you may get home to find your dreams dashed.
2. Schedule Your Test Drive
You can always swing by your local dealership to check out their inventory, but scheduling a test drive online or by phone is best. This way your dealer can have your car cleaned, prepared, and waiting outside for your arrival. Click here to schedule your test drive at McCarthy Toyota of Sedalia.
1. Bring the Family
Shopping for a car is a family-friendly event. So, when you arrive for your test drive, be sure to bring the entire gang. That way, everyone can test out the back seat, climate controls, safety or driver-assist features, and whatever other gizmos and gadgets are crammed in the car.
Have any other tips for buying a new car that we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments or by contacting us online. As a premier Toyota dealership serving Knob Noster and Sedalia, we’re always eager to help. And if you’re shopping for a new Toyota in Sedalia, call our Toyota sales team at 660-826-5400. We’re located at 3110 West Broadway Boulevard, just minutes from Whiteman AFB. Happy shopping!