Finding the best place to buy a new car largely centers on price. New cars are, of course, new, so no differences in vehicle quality exist between dealerships. Assuming you’ve researched and test-driven your potential new ride, and are thus fairly certain what make and model you want, all that remains is buying it at the best bargain you can arrange.
The Internet is an excellent tool for picking the place where you buy your vehicle. Contacting dealerships by email tends to make salespeople “cut to the chase” – they know that you have already researched the car online and will likely offer a you quick bid rather than wasting time trying to persuade you. Once you have secured a number of bids, pick the lowest and contact the others again to see if they are willing to cut an even better deal.
Getting a low bid is just the first phase of finding the best place to buy. You also need to ensure that the dealership is not piling on unnecessary or inflated fees to jack the price back up to more than you should pay for the car. You should also be aware that advertised “0% financing” is usually available only to people with amazingly high credit scores – if your score is above average but not perfect, you can expect to pay more than 0%. Often, securing third-party financing is cheaper than opting for the dealership’s financing, so advertised financing should not play a major role in selecting the best place to shop.
The Best Place for Used Car Purchases
Picking where to buy a used car is a much less certain matter – the best choice of location depends on what, specifically, you are looking for. If you want a pre-owned car that is in good condition and is covered either by a remaining portion of the manufacturer warranty or a warranty from the seller, then searching at a dealership or an independent dealer may be your best bet. The dealer often inspects and tests the cars, cleans them, makes minor repairs, and may offer a short warranty.
These vehicles can be expensive, often requiring financing – they are moderately used cars with a discount from the new purchase price, rather than the cheapest transport available. However, if you want quality and reliability without paying full showroom price, a dealership or independent dealer is the place to look for a used car.
Used car lots provide a big selection of used vehicles at various price points (which generally correspond to condition, though fashionable or iconic cars cost more even when quite battered). If you’re looking for a car that is past its prime, and therefore cheaper, but still functional, then a used car lot is potentially your best choice. If you’re not certain exactly what you want to buy; a lot gives you an array of makes, models, and years to inspect and choose from.
Used car lots are generally more expensive than private sellers, due to the need to pay overhead (building rental, salaries for workers, etc.) but still offer good deals. Caution is in order since the roguish reputation of used car salesmen has some basis in fact. While many dealers are fairly straightforward, it helps to bring along a friend who is knowledgeable about cars if you don’t have that appraising skill yourself.
The very cheapest used cars often come from private sellers – people who are selling off an old car, and who put it out by the roadside with a sign on it, or post a listing on Craigslist. On average, a car from a private seller costs 12% less than a similar vehicle from a used car lot. There are several potential pitfalls to watch out for when buying a car in this manner.
Cars from private sellers are never warranted by the seller – unless the car is fairly new, the manufacturer’s warranty has expired and you are buying the vehicle “as-is,” at your own risk. Age and condition vary wildly, and you typically view one vehicle at a time, rather than having an automotive smorgasbord to pick from. Seller honesty ranges from scrupulous to untrustworthy – though even the most honest private seller may be totally unaware of hidden problems with a vehicle, since most people aren’t trained mechanics. However, some gems (relatively speaking) can be found among privately sold cars, often at an excellent price, though finding them depends largely on luck.
The best place to buy a used car depends on what specific balance of newness, reliability, and price you’re looking for. If you’re willing to pay more for better quality, turn to dealerships or independent dealers. If cost is your primary concern and you’re willing to accept an older, less reliable vehicle, private sellers or used car lots should top your list.