10 Ways to Save Money When Buying a New Car

October 1, 2012

My sister is in the market to buy a new car, so what that means is that I’ve spent every free moment looking at cars and figuring out the numbers with her. Purchasing a car is not a decision that should be taken lightly, especially since it’s the second largest purchase that most people will ever make in their lifetime. For example, considerable thought should be given to whether or not you’ll finance the vehicle through the dealer, pay cash in full, or look for a loan elsewhere. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t still have fun looking for a new car! After all, isn’t saving money when buying a new car just as exciting? So, before you head out to seal the deal, make sure you take the following money saving tips to heart.

  1. Pay in cash. Although the deal may look less appealing because you have to pay a larger sum upfront, a cash transaction is usually the least painful way to purchase a new car. Not only will you save a lot of money in interest, but some dealerships also offer significant discounts to buyers who pay full in cash. You also won’t have to worry about your vehicle being repossessed if life happens and you can’t pay your monthly car bill, either.
  2. Shop around at multiple dealers. Like any other large purchase, buying a car shouldn’t be rushed. If you do that, then you’re more likely to drive away with sky high interest rates and a car that really doesn’t fit your lifestyle, anyway. Instead, take the time to visit at least three or four different dealerships to see what kind of financing terms, pricing and customer service they offer. Remember, the dealerships are competing with each other on price, so don’t be afraid to use that to your advantage.
  3. Do your research first. Along the same lines of shopping around, it’s also extremely important to do your research before blindly handing over money when buying a car. You should have a basic understanding of what make and model you want, the features, upgrades and also the safety rating, too. Oh, and don’t forget the average market price! The worst time to shopping for a vehicle is when you’re unprepared because it’s easier to be taken advantage of by a salesman that bombards you with a slew of fancy upgrades.
  4. Buy a used car. If you’re tight on cash, then buying a used car may be one of your best bets. Not only are most used cars easier to purchase outright with cash because the price is lower, but they’re also often just as good as their new counterparts – the only thing that they’re lacking is the new sticker. However, that being said, you should always have a used car inspected for mechanical soundness and performance before signing any papers. If you aren’t sure how much a used vehicle should run you, then take a minute to visit the Kelley Blue Book website. Once you’re there you can input the make, model, year and condition of the vehicle to receive an estimated value of what the car is worth.
  5. Negotiate the price. Car dealerships are not out to give you the best deal they can on a vehicle; they’re a business like any other and their sales team is trained to turn a profit. However, that does not mean that you can’t negotiate a lower price if you find a vehicle that you really want. In other words, very few things are set in stone at a dealership – you just have to be willing to ask for what you want.
  6. Trade in old vehicle. This works well when you’re buying both new and used, just try to refrain mentioning the trade in until you have negotiated a price on the new vehicle. By playing the game this way, you’re more likely to receive a lower price than you would if you had told the salesman about your trade in before negotiating.
  7. Pay attention to the overall cost. One of the biggest things to watch out for is a low monthly payment that’s part of an extended plan. The lower payments won’t save you any money after you factor in all of the interest that you will have accumulated by the time the car has been paid off.
  8. Wait until you find the right deal. The mindset that you start shopping with is important, and many people end up paying more for a vehicle because they visit dealerships with the expectation that they’re going to drive a car home that day. Unfortunately, that’s the best way to avoid saving money when buying a car. Instead, start shopping knowing full well that it could take weeks to find the lowest price and the best deal.
  9. Shop around for financing. Even though the dealership may try to push you into their in house financing program, take a step back and look around before signing any papers. One of the cheapest ways to finance a new car purchase is to obtain a loan from a credit union – the same cannot be said about most dealership financing.
  10.  Read the financing terms in full. This ties into the above tip. While easier to get for some people, financing through the dealership can lead to headaches and frustration when there are “hidden” terms – like cash penalties for paying the loan balance off early. You should always avoid entering loans where you are penalized for early payments because you may end up paying more in interest for the car than the initial price.

On a final note, don’t allow yourself to get sucked into the up-sale. Some are a good idea, like service warranties, but others are completely unnecessary and will only serve to increase the final price – like tinted windows and heated mirrors. As long as you use at least one of the above ways to save money when buying a car, or better yet a combination, you’ll definitely walk away with a good deal and a price that you feel comfortable with.

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  • Michelle October 1, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    These are all great tips! Lately, new cars are going for less than used cars (or the price is very similar), so I would look at all options.

    • Marissa October 1, 2012 at 3:33 pm

      Great point! I’m trying to get her to look at all of the options!

  • Modest Money October 1, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    I really wish I had got into reading finance blogs before I bought my last car. I would’ve saved myself so much money and probably would’ve bought a much different vehicle. Instead I rushed into the decision without properly comparing prices and getting different dealerships competing with each other. Considering how much money a car will cost you, it’s definitely a decision that should be made carefully.

    • Marissa October 1, 2012 at 3:33 pm

      What did you buy?

  • Sean @ One Smart Dollar October 1, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    If you have good credit cash isn’t always the way to go. We just bought a car using a 1.49% loan. I can invest the money into a 5 year CD and make more money from the interest on the CD over that period than I would pay in interest from financing.

    • Marissa October 1, 2012 at 3:34 pm

      Valid point, although its hard to find that type of interest rate when buying a used car.

  • Lance@MoneyLife&More October 1, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    I actually used the USAA car buying service and they had a prenegotiated rate that was absolutely insane. I paid wwell under invoice in early 2010 when the dealers were hurting badly for sales.

    • Marissa October 1, 2012 at 6:45 pm

      Yeah, I heard that it was a really great time to buy in 2010.

  • Jason @ WorkSaveLive October 1, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    Shopping for new cars are pretty fun but I tend to like looking at houses way more! These were some great tips and a few of them we implemented when we bought a new car a few months back: paid cash, trade in, and shopped around a lot.

    • Marissa October 1, 2012 at 6:46 pm

      The shopping around is getting a bit tedious now. My impulsive nature is starting to kick in.

  • Cat (aka mycanuckbuck) October 1, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    Great list! I’ve bookmarked it – cause I’m looking for a new (or new to me) car this fall!

    • Marissa October 1, 2012 at 7:19 pm

      Glad to hear it!

  • Athena October 1, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    So glad I paid cash for my current car. It really helped with my budget to not have a car payment.

    • Marissa October 2, 2012 at 4:00 am

      How is your car holding up?

    • Jason June 10, 2013 at 6:44 am

      Cash for cars is our business. Junk cars are a nuisance and an eyesore. In some cases they can cost you money: if your county wants you to keep them registered and insured regardless of if they run or not, or fine you for not moving them. Getting cash for junk cars is a perfect solution to this problem.

      We buy junk cars including, all years, makes and models in any condition. Wrecked cars, junk cars, damaged cars for sale, and even crashed cars for sale are of interest to junk car buyers. Yes, we buy wrecked cars; and more importantly you junk a car with us, junk car removal is included free of charge, provided it is local junk car removal. You do not pay us one cent instead we take your junk car for cash paid on the spot.

      Lost car title, that is OK to. Getting a new vehicle title can sometimes cost more than a Junk Car is worth, but it is ok, lost vehicle title is no problem at all. You can still sell your car for cash, junk cars with no title is NO PROBLEM!

      We buy your junk car for the highest CASH paid on the spot! …Prompt, professional service with Honesty! Sell your Junk Car to us today and receive a 2 Nights and three days stay at a Deluxe Hotel in over 50 cities across the US.

  • Jacob @ iheartbudgets October 1, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    #4 only. That is all ;D

    • Marissa October 2, 2012 at 4:00 am

      Really? Tell me how you really feel? 😉

  • Kim@Eyesonthedollar October 1, 2012 at 11:49 pm

    Great ideas. I hope my car last for at least another 8 years, but I hope to buy the next one is cash.

    • Marissa October 2, 2012 at 3:59 am

      Mine has lasted about 4 so far. I’m hoping for another 3-4 out of it.

  • femmefrugality October 2, 2012 at 1:04 am

    Good luck to the sister! She’s getting some top-notch advice!

    • Marissa October 2, 2012 at 3:59 am

      She’s way better at this stuff than me, but I try.

  • Andy Hough October 2, 2012 at 1:44 am

    I’ve done pretty well on my last couple of used cars and used many of the same strategies.

    • Marissa October 2, 2012 at 3:59 am

      How is your van holding up?

      • Andy Hough October 3, 2012 at 12:04 am

        The van is doing good so far, but I might have to get a new vehicle for reasons I’ll blog about later this week.

  • The College Investor October 2, 2012 at 3:53 am

    Really good tips. After buying both new and used cars, I suggest sticking to #4 and buying used. You can get good prices and they can be good buys.

    • Marissa October 2, 2012 at 3:58 am

      I agree. I am pleased with the low interest rates for new ones these days, tho!

  • MoneySmartGuides October 2, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    Since most people hate to negotiate, the best way to get the best price is to send an email to a local dealer detailing exactly what you want (trim, color, options, etc.) They will send you a quote. Then email another local dealer the same thing and mention what the other dealer’s price is. If it’s lower, email the first dealer back. Unlike the salesperson on the lot, the internet salesperson gets bonuses based on number of cars sold, so his goal is to move as many cars as possible. You can do everything online, then just go to the dealer, sign the paperwork (make sure it is the price you were quoted) and walk out with your new car!

    • Marissa October 2, 2012 at 3:50 pm

      Really? I did not know that. Emailing now!

  • Dominique Brown October 2, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    Excellent tips! Whenever I buy a new car I take a few weeks to shop around various auto dealers to be able to get the lowest price possible for the model I want. It is also good to check if they are offering any manufacturer rebates. Occasionally, car manufacturers offer great rebates that can save you thousands of dollars.

    • Marissa October 3, 2012 at 3:46 am

      I always see the commercials at the end of the year for those.

  • Jordann @ My Alternate Life October 3, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    I would love to buy a new car in cash. My next car is going to be a hybrid though, so cash probably isn’t an option. These are good tips though, I followed a lot of these and it helped me get a good deal on my current car.

  • CreditDonkey October 6, 2012 at 12:44 am

    Why not use your credit card to avail of cash back guarantee? Just make sure you pay the full amount of the purchase when the monthly bill is due; it’s just like paying in cash a month later.

  • Trish @ Finances With Funk November 2, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    Great points.
    Research your dealer as well! Ask around to find a dealer with a reputation for honesty and integrity. And find out what their policies and standards are for safety inspections.

    • Marissa November 2, 2012 at 7:09 pm

      Thats a really good point.

  • Relaxedmike January 2, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    Look People..I’m retired at 60 and D..proud of it!! I hate monthly bills like I hate the Taliban!!! My home is paid for..lock/stock/barrel. I just paid cash for a brand new 2013 Hyundai Elantra. DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Treat buying a car like its a final exam or a job entry test.!!! Know exactly what you want and do not deviate. Canvass as many dealers as you can. The more the merrier. Articles will tell you..don’t shop this time of the month, ect. Anytime is a good time to buy a car..if..you are prepared. remember, YOU can walk at any time. Thats your trump card. And do play it. I had 7 different dealerships doing battle. And I did what the experts saaid not to do. I told them up front..I’m paying cash. and what will you give me on my trade in and what incentives will you give me. Yes, its true. Many dealers don’t like casj paying car buyers because they make nothing on the financing. Still, if they want your business, you can get a very fair cash pricc..out the door deal. I got my GlS Elantra for like 18, 400..cash. with a few added bells and whistles. DO YOUR HOMEWORK. DO not be afraid. Speak up. What they gonna say…NO? OK…NEXT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Monica July 10, 2013 at 5:03 am

    The best way to buy a car is to thoroughly put aside some amounts of cash plus find additional source of income. Downsizing expenses is the major thing for sure. I was so looking forward to make the very first payment, so I even applied for a loan but I knew that my paycheck as coming pretty soon. So this advice is for those who have stable jobs. Another good advice is to go with a smaller car of course. One of the main benefits it will cost you less and surely less gas is required for it.