Updated: Oct 29, 2018
Since my last blog post explained how much car you can afford, I wanted to take it a step further and teach you how to buy a vehicle. If you're anything like me, the sheer thought of the car buying process makes your skin crawl. Spending hours at various dealerships, drinking the terrible coffee, and watching the salesman go to the mysterious room in the back (for what seems likes hours) just to come back with answers you don’t want. This used to be my experience every time I bought a car but no more! My last vehicle purchase was completed in just under 30 minutes, and I drove away in the shiny car of my dreams. After reading this guide, you too will be able to accomplish this feat and save a lot of time and money in the process. So, without further a due let’s dive into the ultimate car buying guide!
So you want to know the secret eh? Well, it’s very simple…save up enough money to buy the car with cash, drop the book bag of money on the salesmen’s desk, and walk out with the keys in hand. BOOM!! In and out in 30 seconds! Just kidding, this would be a great way to purchase a car but we all know that saving up for a full car purchase is harder than it sounds. Knowing this, I’ve constructed a 7-step guide on how to purchase a car in under 30 minutes and the first 5 steps can be done without stepping foot outside your home:
1) Know What Car You Want
This may sound basic, but I can’t stress the importance enough! I hear countless stories of people walking into the dealerships with no clue of what car they want and it makes me cringe. That’s the equivalent of diving into a shark tank wearing a suit made of raw meat. You will get eaten alive! You should know all of the following; make and model, price range, new or used, mileage range, etc.
2) Do Research Online
It’s 2018 and there’s this phenomenal invention called the internet, please use it! The internet allows us to search through thousands are cars without moving from our computers. You can search everything from car types, spec options, pricing, safety metrics and much more. This will allow you to run countless comparisons until you find the perfect vehicle for you.
3) Price Shop
ALWAYS price shop vehicles before you buy them. This step alone can save you thousands on the sticker price. If a local dealer is selling a car for $3,000 more than a dealer outside your city or state, give the local dealer a call letting them know you’ve found a similar vehicle at a lower price. They will either try to match the price, or you can have the out-of-state dealership the car to a place near you. I’ve seen many instances where people pay $500 to get a vehicle shipped from another state but save $5,000 on the sticker price (Net gain $4,500)!
4) Get Pre-Approval Financing
This step is the golden ticket! Most of the time spent in the dealership is due to the financing department running your credit and trying to find the best lender. By having this step done beforehand, you will save HOURS! More importantly, though, you will save your credit score. A pre-approval application is a “soft inquiry” on your credit score meaning it has no effect. On the other hand, each dealership does a hard credit pull an average of 3-5 times in an attempt to find the lowest interest rate. Each inquiry can lower your credit score by a couple points so if you visit multiple dealerships this can be devastating. I recommend Capital One Auto Financing, they provide funding at reasonable rates and have average credit requirements. If you have lower than average credit, here is a great source for low credit loans.
5) Get Insurance Quotes
Once you’ve found the perfect vehicle, bargained a competitive price, and found auto financing you ready to seal the deal with insurance. Insurance is one of the most under minded costs of the car buying process. Most buyers assume that if the car note is affordable, then they can afford the car. However, this is a huge mistake. I’ve seen some insurance quotes cost more than the car note itself, so please add this into your overall calculation.
6) Visit The Dealership
If you haven’t noticed, we’ve been at home in our pajamas this whole time. We were able to do everything from our computers and now we are equipped with all the tools needed to defeat those auto sales sharks we used to fear. Once you arrive they should already know who you are because you’ve gotten them to lower the price of the vehicle you want. Once they sit you down hit them with all your research: The vehicle you want, price comparisons, agreed price, pre-approval letter, and insurance quote. At this point, you’ve done all their work for them so all they need to do is tell you where to sign.
7) Inspect The Vehicle and Drive Home!
Before leaving in your shiny new ride, make sure to perform adequate inspections and look at the vehicle history. Here is a car inspection checklist that I recommend.
These 7 steps make your car buying experience enjoyable and you will have control of the wheel every step of the way. Make sure to use this guide the next time you purchase a car and you will be in and out of the dealership before that bad batch of coffee is finished brewing.