Kelley Blue Book Check
- If you know exactly what type of car you plan on getting (make, model and year), do a Kelley Blue Book check on the car to see what you can expect to pay, both at a dealership and to a private owner. This will give you room to negotiate when you find a car that you like. In addition to make, model and year, mileage is an important factor in the price quoted by Kelley Blue Book.
If you don't have any idea of what car you want before you go to the dealership, either bring a hard copy of the latest Kelley Blue Book publication with you or look up the information on your mobile phone while you're browsing.
Bring a Buddy
- You may have heard that women should be accompanied to car dealerships, but the truth is that regardless of your gender you should always bring a buddy with you when you are purchasing a car.
Play the car-shopping version of "good cop, bad cop." As the consumer, you should be the bad cop. The salesperson needs to please you. Have your friend bring up the good points about each car. Agree with your friend, but also voice your concerns. Say, for instance, "Yes, it's a nice style, but look at those rims. I'd probably have to buy a whole new set of wheels." This could buy you some negotiating room---the salesperson might be willing to come down on the price to accommodate your needs. But beware, because many car dealers know about this game and will play it with customers as well.
If at all possible, bring a car-savvy friend, such as a mechanic, so that he or she can advise you on the condition of the car.
Impromptu Vehicle History Reports
- If you are looking to buy a used car, go to the dealership with an Internet-ready laptop or Internet-capable phone so you can do impromptu vehicle history reports on each car that interests you. All you will need to run the report is the VIN (vehicle identification number), which is usually located on the driver's side dashboard of the car. This way you can get an idea of where the car was before it reached the dealership or owner, and any serious issues that were reported about the car.
While you browse, pick out a set of cars you like and run a check on each one. Use the resulting information to further narrow your selection. Many established dealerships provide vehicle history reports for you upon request, so be sure to ask. If the dealership does not offer this information, use online vehicle history reporting services, which usually charge a small fee for unlimited checks.