car dealer

Car Dealerships 101: Everything You Need to Know Before Making a Purchase

Car dealerships can be intimidating places. Going from lot to lot, test-driving cars, and staving off overzealous salespeople can add to a stressful experience for car shoppers.

Having an understanding of dealer practices can help reduce this stress. Here are some tips to prepare you for your summer car-buying journey.

Know What You Want

Car dealerships like Turner Kia sell vehicles and offer financing, trade-in services, and warranties. Many have service departments to perform maintenance and repairs. Salespeople who are trained in customer assessment use information to help customers select and buy cars.

Dealerships make money by selling the vehicle above what the manufacturer pays for it. They also receive manufacturer incentives, rebates, and sales events to drive sales.

Buyers should know their budget numbers, including monthly and down payments, car loan interest rates and lengths, and purchase prices. Getting preapproved for an auto loan before heading to the dealership will help establish a clear picture of financing costs. This information can be used as leverage to get the best deal. A buyer can negotiate a lower interest rate and more out of their trade-in.

Get Preapproved for a Loan

To many people, car dealerships look like profit-making machines. After all, salespeople are often pushed to make the most of your money and can be pushy about selling you additional features and services.

Fortunately, if you are prepared and informed, you can avoid some of this pressure and save yourself time and stress. For example, getting preapproved for a loan is always a good idea before going to the dealer. Many auto lenders have online tools that allow you to prequalify for a loan.

Also, remember that car dealerships make much greater profits from financing than they do from the cars themselves. So, be sure to negotiate the best price on the car and shop around for financing offers. Remember that low monthly payments may come with higher interest rates and longer loan terms, which can increase your total cost.

Locate and Test-Drive the Car

A test drive is a crucial part of any vehicle shopping process. If you feel pressured by a salesperson to do a short jaunt around the dealership and on ultra-smooth roads, don’t be afraid to tell them that you want to take the car on your terms and on roads that match how you’ll use it.

During your test drive, check out the brakes by slowing down to a safe setting and applying the brakes hard. Ensure the brakes decelerate smoothly and don’t have a squealing sound.

Also, pay attention to how the engine sounds and listen to cabin noise. Finally, get in and out of the car a few times to ensure you can reach all the controls without straining or squeezing.

Check Sale Price and Warranties

Car dealerships are intermediaries between vehicle manufacturers and customers, purchasing vehicles from the manufacturer and then selling them to customers at a markup. They also help buyers with trade-ins, financing options, and other paperwork, including registration and regulatory requirements.

Dealerships typically make most of their profit on the backend of the car deal when they sell warranties and other products to customers. Be sure to carefully review fees and add-ons, such as nitrogen-filled tires, window tinting, and paint protection packages, before agreeing to purchase them. Many of these items are unnecessary and optional and can be purchased cheaper from a third-party supplier. Be sure to check with multiple dealerships to get the best prices. These items can add up quickly. Getting preapproved for financing, negotiating the MSRP, and having a list of what you want in the vehicle will help you avoid paying unnecessary extras.

Review the Deal and Dealer Financing

The best way to minimize the chance of falling prey to common car dealership tactics is to secure outside financing before stepping on the lot. Whether at a bank, credit union, or online lender, getting preapproved for a loan gives you a firm grasp of your budget and allows you to shop like a cash buyer.

It also makes it easier to ask for an “out-the-door” price before discussing financing, allowing you to compare dealers on an apples-to-apples basis and more easily catch extra charges or add-ons that may slip in. And it ensures that the interest rate and loan terms are best for you, not the dealer. If you opt for dealer-arranged financing, take advantage of any manufacturer-sponsored low-rate or incentive programs that may be available.