How to Buy a Car: Your Car-Buying Cheat Sheet

Follow these steps to make the car-buying process at the dealership as painless as possible.
Philip ReedDec 10, 2020

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Congratulations — you’re about to snag a new ride! We’re assuming that you’ve already done some research: You know how much you can afford to spend, which car you want to buy and the true market value (what other people are paying) for that car in your area.

And now you’re ready to buy. Follow these steps to get a good deal and make the car-buying process at the dealership as painless as possible.

Arrange financing ahead of time to make the negotiation easier and help you get the best deal.

Think ahead and be prepared with the right documents and information. Take with you:

A salesperson will greet you and urge you to take a test drive. Afterward, be ready for increased pressure to begin negotiations.

The test drive will provide the sensory information you need to decide if this is the right car for you. Don’t rush this step, and don’t let the salesperson distract you with a chatty sales pitch.

If you like the car and are comfortable with your salesperson, it’s time to make a deal in the sales office. Try to remain unemotional and be ready to leave if you feel pressured or the pricing doesn’t line up with your research.

Before you say “yes,” there are a few questions you should ask to make sure you know what you’re agreeing to.

You’re not done yet! You’ll now be handed off to the finance and insurance manager, who will pitch warranties and extras. Verify that the terms you reached with the salesperson are in your contract.

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