Searching for a new car is a huge hassle. There are so many factors to contend with, Make, model, New/Used? If used what is the Mileage and condition of the vehicle etc. Here are a few ways that you can arm yourself before you head to a dealership.
Cars.com, kbb.com, edmunds.com
Use these websites to narrow your focus onto which car you want based on a price range. If you know what car you want, you can search for it. For instance you can search for Hyundai Elantra 2013 model with fewer than 30k Miles and the websites will search various websites and dealership listings and display the results in an easy to use web interface. This website will tell you the fair market value of the car as well as show results in your area that have fair listings. I suggest finding a car that you want and can afford in the first place, then searching the car out on all three of the websites. Taking the average cost from all 3 websites will give you a good idea where the dealer is going to start pricing. So you will be better equipped to make a counter offer and so long as you are in the neighborhood the dealer will most likely come down a little bit.
The worst time of year is to buy a car at tax time. During this time a lot of people are receiving their returns from the IRS and have a stash of cash ready for a down payment. Dealers know this and will be less likely to bargain with you at all as there is probably some other sucker out there willing to pay full price.
Generally the best times to go into the dealership are at the end of the month, end of the quarter, and end of the year. It is during these times that dealerships are trying to meet their quota for their monthly bonuses. They will be more likely to take a hit on the car if they can sell it and get a bonus check for themselves. That strategy is a bit of hit and miss, because if the dealership you go to has already met their quota they will not be in that big of a hurry to sell.
It is easy to get lost in all of the flashy features that a new car can offer while forgetting why you need the car in the first place. If this is your first car buying experience you need to nail down the essentials. Does it need to be manual or automatic transmission? What body style? What price? What Year? If you find a vehicle that has everything you want in it you would be better off to buy it rather than spend the extra for a car that has heater leather seats, variable transmission, Bluetooth xm radio etc.
If this isn’t your first rodeo, feel free to be picky. You most likely aren’t absolutely needing to get a new car anyway, you have some time to search around for the best deal, all the while saving up for that down payment. When you are at the dealership focus on the end purchase price of the vehicle, don’t let the dealer know what you want the payments to be. A lot of times they can get your payments down to where you want them to be per month, but you'll have to tack on another year of car payments which ends up costing you in the long run. It would be better to save up a bigger down payment and finance a smaller portion of the cost to get your payments down to under 200/month. Do not let the dealer know that you have a trade in or a down payment before you nail down the final purchase price first. Once you have that price ask about your trade. If you have done your research you already know what your trade is worth so you wont be cheated out of your hard earned equity
If you have a good relationship with your bank let them know you are in the market for a new vehicle. They can get you preapproved for a given amount so that you can basically go to the dealership and negotiate as though you were paying cash which will usually give you more negotiating power and save you money immediately.
Bottom line is: Do your research. Do more research. Focus on the total purchase price. Do not let on that you plan on trading your current car, and know its kbb values you are not scammed Try to get preapproved for a loan (youll spend less time on the lot and more time driving that day) If you get approved, you’ll be negotiating as though you had cash in hand, use this to you benefit. Have fun in your new car!