It’s no secret that my last car was a ticking time bomb. My 2005 Mercedes was an incredibly reliable car, until it wasn’t. Driving it started to give me a lot of anxiety once it surpassed 130,000 miles, because I was constantly afraid of it breaking down. Can you blame me? No twenty-something girl wants to be stranded on the side of the freeway. It was time for an upgrade.
I knew a new car was in my foreseeable future, which was part of the reason I had moved home—1) to get myself out of credit card debt, 2) to buy a new car.
Being that this was the first car I purchased for myself, by myself, I really didn’t know where to start. Searching for new cars that are aesthetically appeasing, fitting for your lifestyle, and within budget, is a huge time-suck. I knew I wanted a black, Jeep Grand Cherokee with leather seats, and something that could accommodate my active lifestyle, but that’s about all I knew.
Being the stubborn gal that I am, I woke up one Sunday morning and said, “I’m buying a new car today, are you guys coming with me or not?” My parents laughed. I was just ready, ya know? Or so I thought. Buying a car is a much bigger deal than I had thought it would be. Aside from being an all-day ordeal, it requires a ton of homework, aggressive negotiating skills, and patience.
After recently going through the process, here are a few car-buying hacks I learned along the way.
1) Do your homework – Luckily, my mom is a total rockstar when it comes to scouting cars. She has a knack for finding hidden deals and certified pre-owned gems. While I spent time perusing local car dealerships, and narrowing down a style and price-range that I was comfortable with, she was the one that actually found my car. It was a 2017, certified pre-owned Jeep Grand Cherokee with everything I wanted and then some, for a killer price.
Do your homework and spend some time searching used-car websites and visiting car dealerships to weigh your different options. Because (believe me) there is an overwhelming amount of options.
2) Set a soft and hard price limit – It’s really important in the game of negotiating to have both a soft and hard limit of how much you’re willing to spend.
The soft limit being your ideal budget, and the number you openly go in to the dealership with, with room for negotiations.
The hard limit would be the absolute highest price you’re able to spend without completely breaking the bank. You know, incase you end up getting hustled in to buying your dream car and it costs a few pennies more than what you originally had wanted to spend.
Be assertive, and don’t reveal your hard price limit unless you absolutely have to.
3) Be prepared to walk away – Patience is huge. If you’re not getting anywhere with your negotiations, walk away. Tell the car-shark that you’re going to go grab a bite to eat to think it over, leave your number with them, and tell them to give you a ring if they’re able to lower the price. Eight times out of ten they’ll call you within the hour, willing to bring the cost down.
If not, go home and repeat steps one through three elsewhere.