How Buying a Car Has Changed in the Past 5 Years

The past year brought along a lot of changes for my little family of four, but one of the most expensive was the addition of a new car. After a losing battle with a lemon of a vehicle, we finally bit the bullet and dove in the car buying process. And I have to say, even though I’ve bought a car or two in my day, I was really surprised at how much the process had changed from my last purchasing experience in 2014. Here’s the scoop:

The negotiation switch up.

The biggest eye opener was this: of the three dealerships we went to, none of them wanted to negotiate the price of the car itself. In my experience, the collective reasoning was that the dealer is offering the lowest price possible already on the new car and simply doesn’t have room to budge. However, each was willing to work with us on the trade-in value. Which leads us to my next point…

Do lots of research… especially on your trade-in!

Not only do the research on the car you want to buy, but on the car you are looking to trade-in. Make sure you have used resources such as the NADA Guidelines and feel confident in the number you are expecting to receive on your trade-in. Had we not been prepared for this, I could see how we could have easily been steamrolled.

Drive it off the lot for a couple days.

A new or new-to-you car is a big chunk of change and a long-term commitment. You should LOVE it. If you aren’t positive that this is “the one,” ask the dealer if you can keep the vehicle overnight. This will give you a feel for how it fits into your current lifestyle. For me, I wanted to make sure it would fit in our space-challenged garage and that it was easier to access my child car seats. If you don’t have the luxury of time, make sure that you at least take a outside the dealer’s parking lot.

Preapproval is important, but still know your limit.

As soon as you’ve decided that you’re going to take the plunge on a car, your very first stop should be your favorite financial institution to get a preapproval. This saves you a whole lot of hassle and helps you stay in your predetermined budget. Because it’s really hard to say no when you have a spiffy ride with all the bells and whistles and the salesperson is encouraging you to spend just a little bit more. Use this handy calculator to make sure you know your budget.

And while having a preapproval helps lighten the awkwardness of “the finance guy,” you will still be asked about add-on products, like extended warranty and GAP insurance. (P.S. CommunityAmerica offers these products, too!) Every little bit adds up, so this makes it all the more important to know your bottom line. 

Whether it’s getting preapproved or determining that perfect price point, never forget that CommunityAmerica is here for you. With great rates and friendly service, we’ll make your car buying experience a breeze.


Cara at CommunityAmerica

Hi Bob! Thanks for sharing your personal experience with us. We're lucky to have you as a part of our CommunityAmerica family!

Bob Groh

Watch out for 'the price is too good to be true' - particularly in used cars and most particularly when buying from any dealer - these guys know their market and know cars - you are NOT going to get a bargain but you do have a high chance of getting taken to the cleaners! Yes, I do speak from experience - both for myself and others in the family.
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