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Last night we had some fun trying out a couple of cars at a dealership in another town.  I saw the ads online and prices seemed reasonable. I contacted the place and they said to come down and see them for ourselves with a test drive.

I picked up my husband and we made a little road trip to check out an Accord and Sonata. We started off with the Accord, which was an LX model. It was beautiful – rode well and it looked to be in immaculate shape. However it was a higher than normal on the mileage for its age. The Sonata was a certified used car and had lower mileage; the downside for the car was that it was a basic trim and the interior a was smaller than the Accord.

Once we finished the test drives we thanked the salesperson and told him we need to go home and think about it. Both cars were decent deals, but we had other cars to look at and they be a better fit. That's when he asked us to sit down for a bit to talk numbers.

He asked if we”re looking at a specific payment or a specific price. We told him we're more interested in looking at the total price of the car. After going back and forth, he offer a fair deal and wanted to see if we'd bite. We reminded him that we wanted to sleep on it. They then lowered the price a bit more. It was alright, but we didn't feel like it was a big deal that we had to jump to get. We left without buying either car, but we got his card just in case.

Things to Bring with You When You're Going to a Car Dealership

We're still keeping an open mind with dealerships. Now when we go to the next one, though, we'll come better prepared.

  • Bring a copy of the ad of the car (s) you're looking at. The salesman didn't know the price of the car off hand. Showing online what I saw lowered the price of the car by about $1,500.
  • Bring a copy of a couple of competitors' ads. The guy asked us for specific prices of other cars we're looking at. I have a cheat sheet that I keep with me, but having a competitor's ad printed out would be ideal.
  • List of CR top picks. Sometimes salespeople will direct you to another make/model and offer a deal. It can be due to a big inventory of that model of car that they want to get rid of. Sometimes it's a good thing for you, but it can just as easily be a bad buy. I actually brought a copy of the latest auto issue from Consumer Reports so I can check on the spot.

We're still also looking at private sellers – they tend to have some room with price negotiations. Believe it or not, this is the fun part for me. Hopefully we'll find the best car for us.

Thoughts on Buying a Car from the Dealership

If you've bought a car at a dealership, what has been your experience? How many dealerships did you go to before you found the right car for you? Do you have any tips on getting a great deal?

About Elle Martinez

Elle Martinez helps families at Couple Money achieve financial freedom by sharing tips for reducing debt, increase income, and building net worth. Learn how to live on one income and have fun with the second..

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  1. We’ve always been of the “asking never hurt anything” mindset, and it’s helped us get some decent deals. At our most recent buy, the dealership didn’t have any of the car we wanted in the color we preferred, so we asked if there was any way to get the car we really wanted. They called around to sister dealerships and found us the car with some perks we didn’t want to pay for. So we asked if we could have that car for the first car’s price, and they agreed!