What to do if you are planning on buying a car soon

Dec 19, 2023, 6:18 AM

new used cars...

(Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

(Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

If you plan on buying a car soon, you will want to read this before you even consider test-driving one.

“The good news is, right now there are more options [for cars] than ever,” Kevin Braser, an executive editor for Consumers’ Checkbook, told KIRO Newsradio. “Manufacturers are rolling out new models. New EV models, new plug-in hybrids, all kinds of different vehicles. The problem is most of what they’re rolling out though are expensive models.”

He said the days of dealerships offering economy models all the way up to luxury within the same manufacturer are almost over.

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“All the cars being made right now cost $40,000 or more,” Brewer said. “And the reason for that is that manufacturers have recognized that they can sell pretty much every car they produce, so they may as well produce the more expensive ones.”

Another problem for buyers right now, whether it be a new or used cars is that interest rates are high.

“Unfortunately, what a lot of consumers are doing is they’re buying a car and then stretching out their loans for seven years, and that creates a big problem,” Braser continued.

He said car buyers do this when they don’t have a lot of money down and want lower car payments.

“Over time, they’re paying thousands and thousands of dollars more in interest payments over the course of that loan than they otherwise would have,” Braser said.

Something to consider is that people who can’t afford expensive cars end up buying used cars and that puts pressure on that particular market and drives up the cost, according to Braser.

“If you can afford to buy new though, the good news is that there’s more price flexibility,” Braser said. “There’s more price competition among dealers than there was just a few years ago.”

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What he means is that when production slowed down, issues began with delivering new cars to the market.  Braser said,  “If you wanted a new car you were told okay, what you’re going to pay whatever the hell we want to charge you and also you’re gonna wait six months for the thing to be delivered.”

He said that created a market where people were buying cars that weren’t manufactured yet and the waitlists were long!

“So that has eased for most makes,” Braser said. “I mean, there are still long waitlists for some makes of cars. But for most, you can go in and dealers because there are cars available on their lots waiting to be sold. There’s competition among dealerships for your business, and that’s good for you.”

His advice? “You should figure out what you’re buying. The make, model, style of car you want. The options you want. Then approach dealerships one by one and say, I want a bid from you for this car. You give me your lowest price. I’m contacting other dealerships and you only get one chance to give me your lowest price.”

He said this tactic creates competition.

“You now have the dealers competing for your business.”

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Another tip? “Don’t go into the dealerships to do this. Call them and ask to speak with the sales manager,” Braser said. “And a lot of these dealerships have internet sales managers these days. That way, you’re forcing them to compete to sell you the car as opposed to trying to go in and haggle. And you don’t really know what their their lowest price is going to be, as you said, while you try to get $1,000 off, but maybe it’s $3,000 off. You just don’t know.”

He suggested you also get financing from the bank or credit union. When it comes to getting an extended warranty, “warranties are the worst deals in consumerism, right?” Braser asked rhetorically. “I mean, when I’ve asked about, you know, how do consumers often waste money. One of the biggest ways is that we’re constantly being, you know, this barrage of marketing, to get us to ensure things that you know, we don’t really need to insure it. And especially in the case of cars, these extended warranties are horrible deals, their policies contain numerous exclusions, numerous loopholes for them to get out of having to actually cover claims that they should cover, they make it seem like this is full protection against really expensive problems, and there’s payout limits.”

Follow Micki Gamez on Twitter or email her here

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What to do if you are planning on buying a car soon