My first experience with buying a car on a dealer’s lot came a couple of weeks ago. My 1995 Nissan Altima had come to its end. A big, huge, hairy truck plowed into the Altima in a parking lot and pretty much totaled the car. It was actually a blessing, because then I didn’t have to spend the money fixing it up to make it pretty enouh to sell. I’ve always had clunker cars up until now, so buying a car at a dealership was a very new experience. I don’t like buying new cars, so I went to an “up-scale” used car lot, if there is such a thing. My wife and I went back and forth to different dealerships looking at full-size sedans and a couple of small SUVs. We started looking at 2006 Hyundai Sonatas because they were in our price range, they looked nice, and they are a very smooth drive. Plus, we could get a Sonata with a V6 engine that was in our price range. I was ang. little skeptical about buying a Korean car with the track record it has had in the past, but Hyundai has definitely separated itself from Kia by a mile. Many reviews by magazines like Motor Trend and Car Buying Guide say that Hyundai is getting closer and closer to Toyota and Honda type quality. I know, it’s hard to believe, but all you really need to do is drive a newer Hyundai, and you’ll see what they are saying. So, we found the Sonata that we really liked. It was a nice, midnight blue color, had about 30k miles, and the interior was very clean. And so begins the adventure. Here are a few things that I did to help prepare myself for negotiating and buying my “new” used car.
- Do your homework. I did a lot of online research before I decided on the Sonata. The beauty of the internet is that you can read hundreds of opinions about cars from real owners on sites like Epinions.com.
- Go to kbb.com, which is the site for the kelley blue book value of all cars, and get a range of what you should be paying for this car given its mileage, features, and condition. Create a range that you are willing to pay. You want a magic number. If your magic number is $13,500, then you’re not going to walk out the door for anything more than $13,500. If you get anything less than that, then you’ve done a great job, but you’re walking away if they won’t do $13,500. Catch what I’m saying?
- Negotiate price AND repairs. If you’re buying a newer used car, there should not be that many defects. If there are, the dealership should pay to repair them. Any scratches, dings, and paint fading should be negotiated in the sale. Salesman may be more inclined to throw in new paint on the bumpers or a thorough interior cleaning than they are with knocking off $500 to the price. Although, you can sometimes get them to knock down the price because of these imperfections.
- Learn to walk away. Sometimes you have to walk away from a deal, and know when to do it. If you’re arguing over a $100 and you really want the car, don’t walk away from it. If it’s a matter of $500 or more, than hold your ground and the salesman may come running at you while you are walking off the lot.
I ended up buying the Sonata for a price that was in our price range, and I got them to throw in re-painting the back bumper and touching up a scratch on the front bumper and driver side fender. We got a decent deal, but I’m sure the dealer made good money on the sale. It was definitely a learning experience, but I think we were satisfied when we drove away from the lot. I couldn’t really complain with the car, because the windows roll up and it doesn’t rattle my teeth out when I sit at a light. If you’re in the hunt for a car, my suggestion is to buy used and stay strong in the negotiation process. The ball is ALWAYS in your court when it comes to car buying!