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Frugal Car Shopping Tips

By Craig Charles

Shopping for a car can be an anxiety-inducing experience. Itís a major expense and a purchase most people usually only make once every handful of years. The goal in shopping for a car is to walk away feeling good about your purchase. Follow these tips to achieve that goal:

Do Your Homework

Thanks to modern-day technology, it is no longer necessary to walk into a car dealership completely clueless. Car salesmen used to lick their lips when someone came onto their lot. Today, theyíre much less likely to see dollar signs since they know consumers are generally more informed. So do your homework before shopping for a car. The fact that youíre reading this article is a great start!

First thing is first: formulate a firm idea of what you can afford. Write down the absolute maximum amount of money you want to spend on a car and the absolute maximum you want to spend on monthly payments. These numbers are your new religion for the next few days. Never deviate them. If anyone even suggests you deviate from them, give them a scorn look. Your numbers are your numbers and you are loyal to them and them alone!

Second, have a good idea of how much your trade-in is worth. You can accomplish this by visiting kbb.com and researching your vehicleís current value. Car dealerships will do everything in their power to devalue your current automobile so have a strong idea of how much it is truly worth and donít let them jerk you around.

Finally, know your credit score and what type of interest rate it is likely to qualify you for. One trick many people do not realize about car dealerships is that they will tell you that you qualified for an interest rate that is higher than the lowest one you qualified for. They haggle with you over interest rates just as much as the price of the car! Visit a couple of banks and get quotes on an interest rate for the estimated purchase price of your vehicle and use these as leverage when the dealership tries to screw with you.

Know Their Tricks

Car salesmen have a whole barrage of tactics aimed at helping you make an uninformed, impulsive decision. They will try to help you feel a sense of ownership for the vehicle you just test drove by having you park it right in front of the dealership as if it is your own vehicle (rather than back in the original space you found it). They will try to get you to make ďyesĒ statements, as many of them as they can, to get you into a pattern of saying yes. It starts with fairly no-brainer questions like, ďare you looking for a car that youíre going to be happy with for years?Ē Duh! Who isnít? And you can say that to them. Donít be afraid to them that youíre aware of their schemes. Youíre shopping for a car, not trying to make friends.

Check the CarFax!

Just like the commercial says, ask for the CarFax on your vehicle. Donít buy a used car without knowing that carís repair history. You might be about to purchase a total lemon without even knowing it, so get informed!

Consider Buying High Mileage

While there are certain risks associated with a higher-mileage car, there is also value to be had if youíre willing to gamble on these risks. Today, many vehicles, if properly maintained, should be able to make it to a quarter of a million miles and beyond in their lifetime. Cars with six-figure mileage amounts tend to scare people off. This makes them bargains! If youíre willing to bet that a car with 130,000 miles isnít even halfway to itís lifetime potential, you can save a boatload by shopping for high-mileage cars over new cars.


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