1. To save some money, get a car that’s two or more years old.

During the first three years of a new car’s life, its value to a dealer drops by about 45%, making it a great deal if you’re looking for a new ride. Just remember to get a car inspected before you commit, and you’ll be able to have peace of mind without giving up an arm and a leg.

2. Find out the true value of a car by using sites like Kelley Blue Book and eBay/Craigslist.

It's important to know what the true value of a car is before you buy so that you aren't tricked into thinking a dealer's price is the best price. Use a service Kelley Blue Book to find what the market value of a car is, and check eBay or Craigslist to see what people are actually paying to get realistic pricing.

It’s important to know what the true value of a car is before you buy so that you aren’t tricked into thinking a dealer’s price is the best price. Use a service Kelley Blue Book to find what the market value of a car is, and check eBay or Craigslist to see what people are actually paying to get realistic pricing.

3. Get price quotes from multiple dealers online before you go in to buy.

Every used car dealer wants your business, so the best thing to do is to call or email all the dealers in your area and see what their prices are. If you’re having one of those days where you don’t want to deal with people, you can even use a site like AutoTempest, which gives you prices from up to five dealers around you.

4. Roll into a dealership on a Wednesday or Thursday near the end of the month.

Most people will go into a dealer on the weekends, and salespeople are more likely to turn you down if there are a lot of other customers around to negotiate with. Use supply and demand to your advantage: Go in earlier during the week when no one is there, and go in at the end of the month when they need to move cars to hit a quota.

5. Want to save even more? Go car shopping in September.

In September, car dealers have to start clearing out old inventory for the year’s newer models. Most of the time, salespeople will see that as an opportunity to try and sell what they can with dealer incentives, which means that you’re more likely to get the best deal on a car that’s on its way out.

6. See if a car company is offering bonus perks like cash back or special financing online.

Usually, automakers and dealers love to offer special incentives (like a lower interest rate, no down payment, or cash back) on new cars. However, makers like Ford and Kia offer lower pricing or special rates on certified pre-owned vehicles, which can save you from long, painful payments over time.

7. For financing options, go to your bank first and compare with the dealer.

If you’re getting a car, you probably want to avoid paying for all of it in cash, and that’s where car financing (a loan) comes in. You can choose to get financing from a bank or from your dealership. Go to your bank first to see if you can get a low-interest loan, and then go to the car dealer to see what their financing offer is and choose the best one.

Right now, banks are offering around 4% interest on auto loans, so if you borrowed $15,000 to get a car and promised to pay it over 4 years, you’d be paying $332.01 a month and actually pay about $15,936.48, total, with that interest. You can go to most banks and get a free quote for a loan, and you can bring that your dealer to see if they’ll match it or even outdo it.

8. Research the dealership you’re going to before you make the trip there.

Every dealership will have its own unique style and people, so it’s always a good idea to run a quick Google or Yelp search to see what they’re like. If there are multiple people talking about how a dealership has terrible service or is too pushy, it might be in your best interest to take yourself where the good people are.

9. Bring a wingman or wingwoman with you when you go to the dealership.

Car salespeople are among the smoothest talkers out there, and it’s easy to overlook a few details as they entice you. To counter this, bring a close, smart friend with you, ideally someone that will stay close, look at the numbers carefully, refuse any B.S. and tell you if something is up with a car.

10. Be aware of how dealers use a “four-square” worksheet and save yourself money.

When negotiating, car salespeople will use a "four-square" worksheet to make the most profit by dividing a sale into four parts:1. How much the dealer will give the buyer for a trade-in towards the used car.2. How much the used car will be sold to the buyer total.3. How much cash the buyer will put down up front for the used car.4. How much of a monthly payment the buyer will make for the used car.So, let's say that you want to get the full value for trading in your car towards a newer ride. The salesperson will up the price of your trade in to make you feel like you're getting something, and then raise your monthly payments to make sure the dealership still makes a profit. Your job is to "take away" these four squares so that your deal is kept simple and you are paying the least amount of money as possible. For example, consider selling your car on your own instead of trading it in, or make sure you have financing/a loan from the bank so the dealer can't try to heighten your monthly payments. It'll save you a lot of money.

When negotiating, car salespeople will use a “four-square” worksheet to make the most profit by dividing a sale into four parts:

1. How much the dealer will give the buyer for a trade-in towards the used car.

2. How much the used car will be sold to the buyer total.

3. How much cash the buyer will put down up front for the used car.

4. How much of a monthly payment the buyer will make for the used car.

So, let’s say that you want to get the full value for trading in your car towards a newer ride. The salesperson will up the price of your trade in to make you feel like you’re getting something, and then raise your monthly payments to make sure the dealership still makes a profit.

Your job is to “take away” these four squares so that your deal is kept simple and you are paying the least amount of money as possible. For example, consider selling your car on your own instead of trading it in, or make sure you have financing/a loan from the bank so the dealer can’t try to heighten your monthly payments. It’ll save you a lot of money.

11. Consider selling your car by yourself versus trading it in.

Dealers will try to convince you to trade in your old car towards a newer one, but you can usually get more cash by selling your car yourself online or locally. If you’re thinking about selling, Kelley Blue Book has a nice guide to make sure your car is ready to be sold at a good value.

The most popular ways to sell your car online these days is through eBay Motors and Craigslist. If you’re going to sell on these sites, go to DMV.org to see what you need to do to prepare your car for sale, and check Kelley Blue Book to get suggested prices for your car. If you’re meeting up with someone on Craigslist, always meet in a safe public place like a mall and deal in cash.

12. When you start negotiating with a salesperson, give your target price and say you’ll pay it if it can be hit.

When you start negotiating, give a low but fair target price and offer the salesperson to pay right there if they can hit it. Your target price should be based off the true value of a car, which you can find on a site like Truecar or Kelley Blue Book, and is usually less than the sticker price. Also, it’s helpful to keep a maximum price in your head, which you shouldn’t go over in your negotiations.

13. Always negotiate in terms of a car’s total price, not monthly payments.

Dealers know that a big price tag like $25,000 can scare someone, so they try to ease that fear by saying how you can make “affordable monthly payments.” Thing is, some dealers will try to drag those monthly payments way longer than they should be and try to make extra money on you, but don’t fall for it. Come armed with a loan offer from the bank and emphasize the bottom line cost.

14. Never raise your bid for your used car by more than $200 increments.

Don’t lose at your own game by raising your bid by more than increments of $200 each time. If you start at a low price and the salesperson wants to go higher, increase your bid by smaller amount like $50 and $100 to show that you’re serious about getting a deal done, but also trying to save money.

15. Bring your numbers with you to back you up during intense negotiations.

If your target price is going to start low, you're going to need to back it up with something good besides telling the salesperson "This is what my uncle's friend's cousin's paid!" or "This is the price I saw this one time, you have to believe me!" Print out your numbers from your research on a car's value from a site like Edmunds or get a quote from another dealer and have it back you up. Numbers don't lie and you'll have a good foundation for your deal.

If your target price is going to start low, you’re going to need to back it up with something good besides telling the salesperson “This is what my uncle’s friend’s cousin’s paid!” or “This is the price I saw this one time, you have to believe me!” Print out your numbers from your research on a car’s value from a site like Edmunds or get a quote from another dealer and have it back you up. Numbers don’t lie and you’ll have a good foundation for your deal.

16. Get a low cost vehicle history report with AutoCheck or VinAudit.

You can be sweet talked into buying a used car pretty fast, but if that car has some sort of problem like crappy brakes, wires that were on fire, or rats living in the engine, you're going to be pissed. The most popular service for this is CarFax, but sites like AutoCheck or VinAudit offer one-time, no-subscription-required vehicle reports for lower prices of $19.99 and $9.99, respectively. Keep in mind: If you see a car has been serviced occasionally and it's only a few years old, that's usually fine. If it's been serviced 10 or more times for odd things like engine trouble or brakes after just a few years, you might want to think again about buying.

You can be sweet talked into buying a used car pretty fast, but if that car has some sort of problem like crappy brakes, wires that were on fire, or rats living in the engine, you’re going to be pissed. The most popular service for this is CarFax, but sites like AutoCheck or VinAudit offer one-time, no-subscription-required vehicle reports for lower prices of $19.99 and $9.99, respectively.

Keep in mind: If you see a car has been serviced occasionally and it’s only a few years old, that’s usually fine. If it’s been serviced 10 or more times for odd things like engine trouble or brakes after just a few years, you might want to think again about buying.

17. Beware of extras and add-ons when buying your used car.

It’s easy to get caught up in sexy and cool phrases like “nitrogen fueled tires”, “chromed plated wheels”, and “complete theft protection” when a salesperson offers you add-ons with your car. Most of these add-ons are overpriced and can be replaced with cheaper alternatives. The one to look out for especially is the dealer’s “extended warranty,” which is often more expensive than the extended factory warranty that you can buy anytime before the original warranty expires.

18. Ask a lot of questions about the car during negotiations with a dealer or private seller.

When you’re talking to someone at the dealership about a car, or even to a private seller, you should feel totally okay in asking things like “Why are you selling the vehicle?” or “Are there any service records I can see?” Questions are a good way to get a better picture of the vehicle’s history, and you can see if your salesperson is being totally honest and determine whether you really crave that ride you’ve been looking at.

19. Consider saving money by purchasing a third-party warranty.

If the factory warranty isn’t enough for you, skip the dealer’s “extended warranty” and consider a company like Endurance Auto or Delta Auto Protect which cover so many different aspects of your car for good prices. It’s the ultimate peace of mind knowing that you don’t have to worry too much about parts and labor if anything goes wrong.

20. Be ready to walk at any time, and do it with class if you have to.

Remember: When you walk into a dealership, you have the power because it’s your money they want at the end of the day. If you feel pressured at all, whether it’s a salesperson’s negotiation tactics, fine print that doesn’t make sense or even the reactions of other customers, you have the power to walk away. There isn’t just one dealership in the entire world, after all.

21. Always be polite during negotiations.

When negotiating something that means a lot to you, like your next ride, it’s important to go in with a clear mind and be nice with the salesperson. They’re trying to make a living and you’re trying to make it as smooth as possible. Name calling or threatening them will not get you anywhere. You deserve to be comfortable, and staying cool throughout the process will only get you the best price in the end.

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