Q: Now that the new cars are coming out, what's some purchase advice you can give me other than the same old buy at the end of the month, etc.? -- Hettie Haggle
A: Dear Ms. Haggle: That "same old" is still a great strategy to save money when buying a new vehicle. In fact, you'll save even more by going to the manufacturer's website and checking the invoice price. Negotiate up from this price and not the sticker cost. This means you're going in armed and informed and will most likely walk out with the car of your dreams at a reasonable cost.
break out of subordination
Either stand up or sit side-by-side with the salesman/manager when negotiating. When any of the team sits behind his big desk, it gives him an automatic subconscious control factor. We've all heard stories of corporate bosses who sit upon an upgraded chair or who wear elevated shoes to make them bigger than life; this is the same principle. Beat 'em at their own game to avoid paying more than you should.
Look out for the "little" extras, such as undercoating or the cost of extra etching of the VIN number, for example on the motor or inside the door. The latter's a $250 option that almost no one knows about and pays automatically if not careful. In fact, if you call beforehand to speak with the fleet manager, you'll usually get a better price -- less the extras -- than going into the dealership in the first place.
What about that loud music, TVs blaring, and so forth found within the dealership. These are deliberate distractions designed to make you lose track of what should be going on with your negotiations. Tell Mr. Auto you want to go into a private office and shut the door -- effectively closing out all the diversions. Let's say while you're closed up, you agree on a price and think you're done. Not so fast.
Once you've signed document after document (and haven't read it very carefully, you're likely to get home and discover you've purchased a $2,000 extended warranty and you're stuck. Be certain you've got a monthly payment figure you cannot exceed and stick to it like glue to paper.
disbelieve oral claims
Once the salesman thinks he's got you in his noose, he'll promise you anything to close the sale. Make sure what's in writing is what you want. Also, make the auto folks show you how each and every component works before leaving the lot and before you even test drive that dream car.
Of course, always check with Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds.com who are experts and can evaluate what the car is really worth in the market. They can save you money.
And by the way, have a happy and safe Turkey Day.
Ellen Phillips is a retired English teacher who has written two consumer-oriented books. Her Consumer Watch column appears on Saturdays in the Business section of the paper. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.