Top Tips for New Car Shoppers

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In recent years, car buyers have had to work harder to find a great deal on a new car. That's because the supply of new autos to dealerships has been low and demand has been high. That means many new car shoppers have ended up spending more than the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) to purchase a new vehicle. In fact, last year 82 percent of car buyers in America paid more than the sticker price for a new car.

If you haven't shopped for a new vehicle lately, there are some things you should know regarding the global shortage of new cars and how it may affect you when you head out to the dealership to make a purchase. You may discover fewer cars in the make, model, and trim level that you're interested in. Plus, the cars that are on the lot move fast these days. In fact, according to J.D. Powers, 56 percent of vehicles sell within ten days of arriving at the dealership. It is best to stay flexible when it comes to vehicle colors and trim levels.

Save Time and Money when Buying a Car

One way to make sure you get the vehicle you really want is to research automakers' "Custom Order" programs that allow you to pre-order the exact car you desire. These orders include getting the exact color, model, trim level and special accessories to make your car your own. Ask your dealership if they can special order your car right from the factory. It can be well worth the wait of several months to get exactly what you have in mind.
If you are having trouble finding the exact vehicle you want at local dealerships, you can also ask a dealer about placing a deposit on an "in transit" vehicle that is on its way from the manufacturer to the dealership. You can often research such cars on dealer websites and claim the car as yours before it even arrives onsite.
With over 75 years of experience in new and used car sales, Lithia Motors is here to help you with personal transportation solutions. If you have questions, we have answers and want to be your trusted source when it comes to buying, selling, or trading in a vehicle. We've put together this list of top tips for new car shoppers to arm you with the knowledge you need to hopefully save you time and money when you're ready to start your search for a new car, truck, or SUV.

A lot of new car shoppers have discovered that the shortage of new vehicles on car lots ends up meaning they have to take more time and effort in purchasing the car of their dreams. It's more difficult to find the right car in the color and trim level you want at the price you want to pay. Some shoppers are even driving to dealerships farther away than they would like in order to purchase that car. The first tip is to take your time and take your car buying experience one step at a time.

Car Buying Tips

Today, there are more opportunities to find the right car online than ever before. If you have narrowed your search for a particular make and model of vehicle, the Internet is the ultimate car shopping mall. Start by looking at the auto manufacturer's website to learn as much as you can about the vehicle you want. Research its various trim levels, special packages, estimated miles per gallon, special rebates and incentives, and the manufacturer's suggested retail price.
You'll also find video road tests and online forums that discuss the vehicle you're looking at. Check out the car in as much detail as possible as well as other brands that offer similar vehicles for comparison. Once you have a good idea of what you want to buy, search car dealerships near you to find out what you will expect to pay for the make, model, and trim level that you want. Check the automaker's website for warranty information. Does the vehicle come with a free service or maintenance plan? Call the local dealership of the brand you are considering and ask the service manager about the car's ongoing service and maintenance costs.
Armed with all that knowledge, use our handy online Trade-in Tool to discover how much a dealership will give you for your trade-in. With used car prices at an all-time high, you might be surprised at how much your used car is worth. Lithia Motors will buy your car whether you buy from us or not. Estimate your used car's value with our Trade-in Tool by Kelley Blue Book.
Once you have the approximate trade-in value of your used car, you'll have a better idea of how much money you'll need to finance for your new vehicle. It's also important to call your auto insurance agent and let he or she know the year, make, and model of car you are thinking of buying to get an estimate of what the insurance will cost you.
Before you head down to a dealership for a test drive, go to a bank or credit union you trust to get pre-approved for an auto loan. Check your credit score to get an idea of what your interest rate is likely to be and then shop for the lowest rate you can get. You can save yourself a lot of money by comparing rates with several lending institutions. Once you have been pre-approved for a loan for the vehicle you are interested in, let the dealership try to beat that interest rate. Make sure you verify all the other loan terms before signing on the dotted line.
Speaking of, if you have picked out the make and model of vehicle you want and have done your research on price, your old car's trade-in value, and have been pre-approved for your auto loan, it's time to head down to the dealership for a test drive.
It's a good idea to make a list of things you want to check about the car you'll be test driving. The list includes checking the trim level and added features, understanding how all the driver assist features function before you take the test drive, and making sure the vehicle has enough room for the whole family and ample cargo space. Will your golf clubs fit in the trunk? Is the car easy to get in and out of? Are the gauges easy to read? Does the car fit you ergonomically? Are the various features easy to operate? Is everything at your fingertips?
Call ahead to schedule your test drive during the day (no night test drives) so that the car is ready to go when you arrive. Weekdays are less crowded at dealerships than weekends so schedule your test drive on a weekday if possible, so you can take more time. It's good to test drive all the cars at the dealership that you are interested in back-to-back to compare driving impressions. Ask the salesperson to go over all the attributes of the trim level of the vehicle you'll be driving. Don't test drive in the rain or snow. Do some regular stop and go driving as well as driving on the freeway to get the feel for the car's acceleration, braking and cornering characteristics
Don't listen to the radio or fiddle with the infotainment features while you are test driving. Rather, listen to the engine and the sounds the car makes. You can always try out the epic stereo system later. Likewise, don't engage in distracting conversation with the salesperson during the test drive, just concentrate on the car, its performance, agility, suspension, and how it feels to drive it.
In this day and age, it is rare to buy a car at the listed MSRP. Experts on the subject feel that in the current car buying landscape, getting a new car at the sticker price is considered a good deal. Beware of dealer add-ons for items such as paint protection plans or window-tinting that can drive up the cost of the vehicle. Likewise, watch out for "market adjustment" fees based on the rarity of the car. It is worth driving extra miles to a dealer that offers vehicles at the MSRP price.
On the positive side, while new cars are harder to come by in the current market, you'll get more for your trade-in to help level the playing field. Having finished the test drive, if you are sold on the car, it is time to buy before another customer snaps up your new ride. Be aware that the contract phase takes a bit of time. Be calm and patient. Salespeople tend to go the extra mile for customers who treat them nicely. Buying the car on a weekday will likely get you through the process quicker than if you purchase on a busy Saturday.
Make sure you bring along your driver's license and the title, registration, and insurance card for your trade-in car as well as your pre-approval letter from your lender. Let your salesperson know you are a "cash buyer" and that you want to concentrate on the "out the door price" of the vehicle including all taxes and fees. Know the market value of the car you are buying and keep your target price in mind. If you have price quotes from other dealers, use them to negotiate the best price possible. Once you have an out the door price from the salesperson, deduct any current cash incentives to further lower the price.
Final Tips
If you have pre-approved financing, let the dealership try to beat the interest rate. As you go over the contract, double check all the loan terms, check fees such as destination charges, sales tax, license, registration, and documentation fees. The Finance and Insurance Manager will likely offer you an extended warranty on the vehicle. Remember, that you can purchase an extended warranty later, when you are closer to the end of your three-year factory warranty. Check the entire contract thoroughly before you sign. At Lithia Motors we want you to be comfortable and happy with your new purchase and want to keep you as a customer for life.