You’ve been eyeing that new car for some time now, and finally your budget gives you the green light to go for it. So should you rush right out to the dealership? Only if you want to pay more than you should.
That’s because finding the best car deal is affected by when you purchase. For the optimum bargaining position, the first thing you need to pay attention to is the time of the month. Both the dealership and its sales personnel have to meet monthly quotas. Shopping just before the month is about to end gives you more leverage because sales figures will soon be turned in for the month. A salesperson that has a slow month will be eager to make a deal to give those figures a last minute boost.
The second time factor that affects the deal is the season of the year. In early fall, dealerships are anticipating receiving inventories of next year’s models. To make room, they put remaining inventories of the current year’s models on sale. Typically this means taking significant markdowns so they can move the merchandise, which means big savings for you. The other seasonal advantage comes at Christmas time when shoppers are busy buying gifts, not cars. The light showroom traffic makes salespersons anxious to close the deal with a serious shopper.
Even the weather comes into play when you are trying to negotiate. Bad weather is another time when a dealer’s showroom will be empty. That leaves more time for a salesperson to try and make you happy enough to leave the lot the proud owner of a new car.
Of course, timing alone isn’t enough to put you in the driver’s seat without spending a fortune. You also need to do your homework and research prices before you set foot on any showroom floor. The Internet is the best place to find the information you need.
There are three web sites that you can use to research the dealer cost (invoice price), and the manufacturers suggested retail price (MSRP), or list price of the model you’re interested in:
1. Kelley Blue Book (http://www.kbb.com)
2. Edmunds (http://www.edmunds.com)
3. MSN Autos (http://www.autos.msn.com/Default.aspx)
Always start your negotiations from the invoice price, not the MSRP.
You can also use Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds to find out what car buyers actually paid for the model in your region, based on your zip code. When you are using these sites to research a car model, don’t forget to use the “incentives” tab to see if the manufacturer is offering purchasers any kind of rebate. You can also find a full list of rebates on MSN Autos by logging on to http://autos.msn.com/home/rebates_all.aspx.