When it comes to buying new things there is almost nothing most people dread more than car shopping. While it may seem like a painful process, the truth is that it doesn't have to be. The key is to be prepared. Here's how...
Know what you want
Don't do your actual car shopping the same day you plan to buy. If you are ready to buy a new car, but aren't sure exactly what you want, then it's important to research your choices and make a firm decision before you actually purchase.
Check dealer websites for stats and information on models, and ask your auto-enthusiast friends for recommendations.
Visit some Atlanta dealerships to test drive the cars you like best in order to narrow down your decision, but don't let a sales person pressure you into making a purchase right then and there. Whatever deals and incentives they are offering will be there the next day unless it is the very last day of a particular sale. Once you have made your final decision, you can confidently walk into the dealership ready to negotiate.
Pick the right time to buy
Unless you are in urgent need of a new car, waiting for the right time to start car shopping can save you money. Often times salesmen have monthly quotas to fill so they will cut better deals in the last week of the month. Also, buying a new car in late summer or early fall may score you a better price on the current year model as many dealers need to make space for the next year's model. You will generally not get a good deal if you buy a new car when the model is newly released; this is usually when the price is highest.
Research prices and financing options
Research the invoice price of the vehicle you want to purchase ahead of time, and use that number as your starting point for negotiations instead of the sticker price. You will also want to research your financing options when you begin car shopping. Get loan quotes from a few different banks, and check your credit score to know where you stand. If you plan to trade in an old car, be sure to research the market value of that as well. Print out all of your research and bring it with you so you have the figures in front of you when you negotiate.
Negotiate details out of the dealership
Don't be impulsive--think through details of the deal after you leave the dealership. Get an email address from the sales person and negotiate via email. It's effective because it shows you're a disciplined buyer who has the ability to research independently.