Buying a car step by step 2020
I have to thank all the tipsters on this forum for all their advice on how to approach the new car purchase. I was stressed out by the whole process, having not purchased a car in 11 years, especially since the first time I fell for all the stupid things dealers throw in - etching, etc. I was worried about an hours long negotiations at the dealership. But in the end it was the most stress free thing I’ve ever done.
I used the email bomb advice after getting the invoice price from unhaggle and surprisingly enough had 8 dealers fighting for my business. After two days of emails, I got down to a price for a 2021 KIA Telluride SX that a number of dealers said was ridiculous and couldn’t match. Needless to say, I’m happy and can’t thank those on this forum enough.
My one mistake was going back to the original dealer where I had first test driven the car in person out of some stupid sense of loyalty for taking me on the test drive. As someone else pointed out, you’re not trying to make friends. You’re looking to get the best deal on the car that you can get.
At the end of the day, that dealer wasted my time, questioned how I had arrived at a quote that I had in hand and basically said no and that I would be back.
Well I won’t be.
In terms of step by step, here’s what I recommend:
1. Narrow down what cars you’re looking at and what features you need. Do your research on reliability and other user experience. I used consumer reports as a starting point when looking for my new SUV.
2. Test drive all of the cars on the same day so you can compare each and get a sense of the look and feel of the cars. Just looking at them on a screen isn’t the same.
3. Narrow down your choices and be realistic about your budget and what you actually need. While Heads Up Display and heated second row seats are nice, are they essential? I used a spreadsheet to compare features to help in picking the car we wanted.
4. Use unhaggle or carcostcanada to get the invoice price for the cars you’re interested in. You can get two free quotes with unhaggle - I believe - so make sure you know you want. There’s also the unhaggle forum here and you can use other email addresses or phone numbers if you have access.
5. Unhaggle has a good worksheet for knowing what price you should go in with - what the cost of extras, etc. I did have to ask one dealer what additional options that I wanted would cost as KIA doesn’t cost them out like other manufacturers on their build portion of the site. Figure out what you need and what it is going to cost and then you have your price to take to dealers.
I also recommend looking at other sites for the stuff you want. Hitches, floor mats, etc. Dealers may charge more for these things, so it’s good to know what the market rate is elsewhere, so you can negotiate and or just get it elsewhere if they balk.
5b. If you have a car you’re going to trade, figure out what a reasonable trade in value for your car is.Canadian black book is a good resource to help with this. Be realistic about what you might get for your trade and expect to be lowballed.
6. Determine where the dealerships are for the brand and make of car you want and how far you want to go to get the car. I’m in the GTA so I had a lot of options. Identify the sales manager and collect all of their email addresses.
7. Bcc Email all of the sales managers with a polite email being specific about what car and trim you want, colour and additional options if any. Identify the prices of each item, so the dealer knows that you know what you’re talking about. Using your unhaggle worksheet put forth what you’re willing to pay including dealer profit, taxes and everything. Basically what the out the door price is that you want to pay. It might be good to price out a few price points in the worksheet so you know the different figures going in. I used a spreadsheet to help with this, so I could also compare the offers when they came in. Be respectful in your email. Don’t say gimme your best price. Give them your price and let them know that you will deal with whoever can meet your price. Then sit back and wait for responses. Try to target month end and year end. I read elsewhere that holiday weekends are also good times to target.
8. Hopefully you get more than one response either with an acceptance of your offer or a counter. Give it time and don’t respond until you have a few responses. Maybe half a day if not less. Once you have some offers, go back to those dealers and play them off each other in separate emails with hopefully the better price. Keep doing that until you get to a price you’re happy with or if you think you can’t get them to go any lower. For me, it was when a dealer told me that I had the best price from another dealer and that it was leaving no profit. You’ll have to determine how far you can push before stopping.
9. Follow up with the dealer who gives you the best price. Don’t knock off anyone just yet. Get a price quote offer sheet detailing what you asked for and the agreed upon price. Review this and make sure it’s accurate to what you wanted.
10. Close the deal. Call the dealer, make sure everything is accurate and that there are no additional costs. You can bring up your trade at this point. You may need to bring it in to evaluate. Just make sure you have a good idea of what you think it’s worth and what you should get. You may get lowballed, so be prepared to either counter or if you have other options go elsewhere. Discuss next steps and you’re done. Until you have put a deposit on the car and have a signed bill of sale, don’t close off any doors. If things don’t work out for whatever reason you may need to go back to one of the other dealers. So keep things respectful until you have a deal in place.
Paying for the car.
Do not get into discussions about monthly cost or leasing or financing when you’re trying to determine the out the door price. This hides the full cost of the car. Figure out the car price out the door and make sure you can handle whatever the payments might be, be it lease, finance or cash, monthly, weekly, biweekly.
I am using my line of credit to pay for the car and have worked out what will work for me over 60 months. Anything longer to me is too much and puts you in a situation where you’re paying more than the car is worth.
I apologise for the long post. But after your house, this is the second most expensive thing you will buy so it is not always straightforward.
I hope this helps someone else and thanks again to all of those who helped educate me.