Money magazine’s March issue had a few great tips to help you save time and money when shopping for your next car.
#1: Call ahead and ask if the specific vehicle that you’re interested in is still available and there to be seen.
Why this works? Car dealers will sometimes advertise “ghost cars”, cars that aren’t real and they’ll advertise them at unrealistic prices to get you to stop by the dealership. Call first to make sure that the specific vehicle is actually there and the price is right. This will save you a bunch of time and money because you’re not being sold something different once you get there and find out that the cheap car is not available.
#2 Email ahead and get an exact price quote BEFORE you leave your house.
Why do this? Car dealers sometimes advertise pricing that is far below the real price to entice people to come into the dealership and waste hours of their time with a professional salesperson. They give you the whole song and dance and waste half of your day and then when they put the actual contracts and real numbers in front of you, they are drastically different. The “real” numbers will then show you destination fees, dealer fees, detail fees, inspection fees, reconditioning fess, fees fees, etc. These dealers only show you these numbers AFTER they’ve wasted your day, ran your credit, got your bank approval, appraised your trade-in and had you clean it out, parked your trade-in out of sight, taken off your license plates and got you right where they want you. Then they give you the actual numbers and think that you won’t just walk away because you’ve already dedicated a full day to this dog and pony show and you definitely don’t want to go through this crap again. I can’t tell you how many of these stories that I’ve heard from previous customers of mine and I also can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard of people actually paying $2,000-$4,000 in “fees” on top of what they thought was the sale price. So… call or email ahead and ask for the exact sale price, including all fees, so that you may have your bank prepare a certified check. You’ll probably get the right figures at that point and save yourself many hours of time going to dealers who would rather play games then sell cars.
Hope these tips helped.