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13 Tips to Save Even More When Car Shopping

Updated: Nov 14, 2023

1. Get the car fax. Trading in an old vehicle for a new one? Pull your Car Fax. This arms

you with important information about your car’s value, and you can confirm your car’s Car Fax is error free.

2. Know your value. Research what your car is worth on websites like Kelley Bluebook,

National Appraisal, and eBay Motors to get a ballpark idea of what your trade is worth. Keep in mind that the dealer will offer you the trade-in value—not the retail value.

3. Get your car detailed. Dealers want to buy cars they can drive right over to their used

car lots and sell—fast. If your car looks great, you’ll get much more in trade. By spending a few hundred dollars in detailing, you could make a few thousand dollars on your trade. Make it shine!

4. Don’t overspend on your trade. On the flip side, don’t replace your old car’s tires or

make other upgrades. You aren’t likely to get a return on that investment.

5. Adopt the right mindset. Walk into the dealership with confidence, stick to your guns,

and don’t feel bad about walking away from any offers. It might also be helpful to practice your negotiation strategies and tactics in preparation.

6. Make the most of the test drive. Ten percent of people who buy a new vehicle don’t

test-drive it first. Ask to drive the car home to get a feel for it and make sure it fits in your garage. You can glean valuable information during the test drive to help with your negotiations.

7. Don’t play the four-square game. A common sales technique, this is where salespeople

ask what you want to spend per month, then they work backward to make the numbers fit. This can result in you over-paying for the car or accepting a longer loan term than you had in mind. Anytime you make an offer, don’t speak again until the salesperson replies.

8. Think outside the box. If a dealer is not able to come down on the price, consider asking

for other services, such as free oil changes or car washes for the next year or two, a bike rack, or upgraded car mats.

9. Ask about discounts. Most manufacturers offer incentives to entice buyers to purchase

their cars. Check the automaker websites frequently and look for specials, rebates, incentives, or discounts to see what deals are available. You can also ask the dealership directly. They are often happy to share these incentives with you because they are paid for by the manufacturer, and the dealer isn’t losing any money. Manufacturers and dealers offer many discounts, such as for veterans, teachers, first responders, recent graduates, new car buyers, “loyalty” discounts for repeat customers, even “conquests”—if you haven’t bought that car brand before, they might offer you a discount to lure you away from their competition. Phrase the request in a positive way. Instead of asking, “Can I have a discount?” ask, “How much of a discount will you give me?”

10. Negotiate your interest rate. The wrong loan can quickly cost more than savings you’ll

get negotiating on price. Get the lowest interest rate you can. Your rate and loan terms are all up for negotiation. Dealers also make money on financing because banks incentivize the loans. Unless you’re looking at 0% or another low incentivized interest rates, it’s best to buy a car with cash. If you have to borrow, do so conservatively. Get the best rate you can. Stick with loans no longer than 36 months and try to put 20% down.

11. Talk about the trade last. If you’re trading in your old vehicle, avoid talking about it

until last. You likely have more room for negotiation on your trade, so don’t give up that bargaining power until the end.

12. Watch out for up-sells, insurances, and extended warranties. At this point you might

have “negotiation fatigue” and be eager to close the deal and go home. Toward the end of the negotiations, you’ll often be offered “special” extras and insurances, such as tire and rim protection, lost key insurance, acid rain protection, paint sealants, and dent insurance. They might offer to replace the car’s air with nitrogen, tint your windows, or etch the VIN number into the windshield. Most of these items are overpriced and not worth the extra money. Along the same lines, extended warranties are rarely worth the money. The coverage is often very limited and doesn’t cover the costs of many types of mechanical failure in new cars. A new car will come with a manufacturer’s warranty that provides ample coverage for your vehicle. You especially want to avoid the extended warranty if it will be financed as part of your car loan because the total cost of the warranty, including interest, will be exorbitant.

13. Protect your investment. Every time you drive your vehicle, no matter how careful you

are, the paint on your car, truck or SUV is being ruined. Rocks and stones fly up and chip your paint. The sun, rain, and wintertime salts fade and destroy your paint. Immaculate Paint Protection offers two solutions to keep your vehicle looking newer, longer. Paint protection film: Want to avoid paint chips and drive with confidence knowing your vehicle will look new for years to come regardless of age or miles driven then our paint protection film protection is for you. Ceramic coatings: Need an amazing looking vehicle with maximum gloss, but also want to protect your paint, plastic trim, glass and wheels while being easy to clean then our ceramic coatings are for you. Whichever you choose, know you’re protecting your vehicle in the long term. Cars are investments; you want them to last!

Want even more money-saving, car-buying tips?

For paint protection film and ceramic coating packages, pricing, and more visit us at

About the author: Bill Fetter’s passion for cars started at an early age, as he loved anything with wheels. Through his childhood, Bill observed his dad’s work as a mechanical engineer turned marketing manager and proud lifelong employee of General Motors. During high school, Bill honed his passion for cars by hand-washing and detailing his neighbors’ vehicles. Knowing he wanted to be in the automotive industry, Bill earned a degree in Industrial Engineering from Kettering University in Flint, Michigan. He’s worked as an engineer in the automotive manufacturing, medical device, steel industry, and pharmaceutical manufacturing fields.

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