20 questions to ask a car dealer before buying a car
Buying a car is an important decision, making it worth your while. Most likely, this is the biggest purchase after buying a home that you make. It is important to know exactly what you are buying, what safety features are supplied with the car, and how - and how much - you will pay for it during its service life. GOBankingRates offers expert advice on what questions a dealer needs to ask before deciding on a deal.
Ask yourself first
Before heading to a car dealership, it is important to have a clear idea of which car you want, how much you can spend and how you plan to finance the purchase.
Alain Nana-Sinkam, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, TrueCar, recommends that potential buyers ask themselves the following questions: “How long do I plan to own this car? Do I want to buy it and drive it to wear, or do I think that in 3 years I will need a new car? How do I want to see a monthly payment for a car? What is the upper limit of such a payment? How am I going to use the vehicle? What fuel consumption is important to me? What are the requirements of my daily trips to the car and fuel? ”
“If you are honest with the answers to these questions, it will be more convenient for you to ask questions as well,” he said.
After that, prepare a list of questions for your car dealer.
What you need to know about the safety of this car?
“It’s becoming increasingly important for car buyers to learn about advanced security systems and make sure that any car they consider has the technology they want,” said John Vincent, senior journalist at US News Best Cars. “Different car manufacturers call systems (such as automatic emergency braking) differently, which can lead to confusion and lead to buying errors.”
What other features are there?
From technical functions to the sunroof, a car can have many add-ons - things that you can both want and not want. Keep in mind that these "bells and whistles" can increase the price, so make sure that you really need them.
Can I do a test drive on the highway?
“When you drive for a test drive, you should try to drive in the conditions in which you usually drive,” says Nana-Sinkam. - If you drive a lot on the highway, you should test the car there. And if in the city - then on the city road. Then you don’t have to find out one day that you don’t like how the gearbox works at high speed, and so on. ”
Can I test a used car version?
“When you go to test drive a new car, you should also ask to test a used version of this car,” said Nana-Sinkam. - Each car is good when it's brand new, but you want to understand what all this will look like in 2,5 years. Will you still love this car? Most likely, they will have about a three-year version of such a car. Get behind the wheel and see if the car meets all your needs. "
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What incentives to buy do you offer?
Nana-Sinkam said buyers should ask about current incentives, how long they are available, and which ones can be combined.
“There are certain incentives that you get only in case of a lease, while others only if you go through the manufacturer’s own financial company,” he said. - Understanding the compatibility of these incentives is really important. Sometimes it can be promotions from the factory and dealer, which are not advertised. This happens at the end of the month, or if there is a model with a high stock of units that dealers want to sell. Then they can help make the car more affordable. ”
Are there any discounts from the manufacturer?
“This is a refund [of the discounts] paid [to you] after purchasing some models,” said Lev Barinsky, CEO of SmartFinancial. - Ask to see these cars first. Keep in mind that despite the discount, you can still pay tax on the full cost of the car. ”
Can you lower the price?
“Despite the fact that car manufacturers set a suggested retail price (MSRP) for each vehicle, smart buyers plan and ask for a different amount,” said Matt Smith, senior editor at CarGurus. - Instead of MSRP, find out the purchase price - this is the price that the dealership probably paid for the car. Given the incentives and “delays”, most dealers will have the opportunity to reduce the final cost closer to the purchase price than to the amount of MSRP. ”
Is there any special funding?
“Find out if there are special interest rates or special rental programs,” Nana-Sinkam said. “Ask what rates will be available if you finance the purchase through their bank and not your bank or credit union.”
Am I eligible for tax credits on this vehicle?
“All electric and plug-in hybrid cars can make you $ 2000 to $ 7500 in certain areas,” Barinsky said. “There are federal tax breaks.”
What warranty is available?
“Ask for an affordable guarantee,” advises Nana-Sinkam. “You want to understand what else the warranty covers in the new car, in addition to what it can break in.”
Does the warranty cover any kind of service?
Nana-Sinkam recommends that you find out whether the warranty covers components that wear out or require regular replacement, such as oil, brakes and wipers.
“This will help you understand the real cost of owning this car, because after 2000 or 3000 miles, some things will change,” he said.
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What maintenance costs can be expected after the warranty expires?
Even if maintenance is included in the warranty, these costs can only be paid for the first two years or 20 miles. Ask for typical oil change costs, new tires, brake changes, and other maintenance that you will need to pay regularly during the life of the car.
Is wrap-around coverage available?
Wrap-around coverage (optional car parts insurance) is not included in the price of the car, but may provide additional protection that is not included in the standard warranty. This usually extends the warranty from bumper to bumper.
“You can agree on the price of such coverage if this is what interests you,” Nana-Sinkam said.
How much will you pay for my old car?
If you are selling an existing car and do not want to do it yourself, you can sell it directly to the dealer. However, different dealers may offer you different prices. Use online resources to determine how much your car is worth. You should also ask several dealers how much they are willing to pay for the exchange.
Can I see the full purchase agreement?
Before you agree to the down payment and monthly fees, ask for a purchase agreement for a breakdown of costs, including any fees and services. If there is an add-on or accessory that you do not need, be sure to mark it so as not to pay for it.
What are the conditions of the loan?
“Buyers need to know the specific conditions of any car loan they sign up for,” Vincent said. - This includes the number of months they will pay, the interest rate, the presence or absence of a penalty for early repayment of the loan. The best way to get a great car financing deal is to get a pre-approved car loan long before you go to a car dealership. If you do not have an offer, the dealer will have no incentive to find you a better deal. ”
Vincent also noted that it is important to pay attention to how long a loan is granted - the longer the term, the more interest you will pay.
“If the dealer shows you a loan term of more than 72 months, ask him to re-enter the numbers with a shorter period,” he said. “If you cannot afford repayments for a six-year or shorter loan, you cannot afford a car.”
Has my loan been approved?
“Before signing any loan documents, in addition to applying for a loan, it is extremely important to ask if your car loan has been approved by the lender,” Vincent said. - If they cannot provide evidence of this fact, do not sign loan documents. If you leave the dealer before the loan is finalized, you will encounter fraud. For example, when a dealer calls you about a week after you take the car home to let you know that your loan is past due and you must return to sign new documents. When you do this, the amount will be much larger than the amount you originally agreed to. ”
Can I get a car in return when I leave mine at a car dealership?
Nana-Sinkam said you should talk to the dealer’s technical department to find out if they offer any amenities to help you if you need to leave your car in the cabin for repairs — for example, a shuttle service or a shuttle service.
“We are talking about using the machine after the purchase,” he said. - If the dealer says: "I am always ready to offer you a replacement car or provide a shuttle service," then you can buy this car in this salon and use it every day. "
Can you deliver a car?
If you buy from a dealer who is far from your home, or from an online dealer, delivering a car will save you a lot of trouble.
Can I take the time to make a decision?
“Despite the fact that the conditions for the sale of new cars may seem to be available in just a couple of days, in fact they are usually relevant throughout the month,” Smith said. - If you are offered a deal only for a limited time, but you need a few more days to think about it, tell the seller that you will be back. Most often, this offer will continue to be available. ”
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