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Buying or leasing a new vehicle can be terribly stressful. This is understandable because cars and trucks are often the most expensive things people purchase after their homes.

Driving off the lot feeling like you’ve been taken advantage of is disquieting at best. You’re supposed to be riding high on a wave of endorphins after acquiring a new ride, not feel like you’ve been sent through the wringer to have every penny squeezed out of your savings. To help prevent this automotive anguish here are some car-buying tips to save aggravation, stress and probably a bit of money.

First Things First

As the old proverb goes, knowledge is power. Having some basic information handy BEFORE you walk onto the showroom floor can be extremely helpful, so do your homework.

Ric Lanning, a client advisor at University Ford and Kia in Durham, North Carolina suggests potential buyers go on the internet, but not just to window shop for cars. “A lot of the dealerships will have reviews on there,” he said. Find the stores with the best ratings and don’t be afraid to look for a highly recommended salesperson. Lanning said, “I think people need to buy from someone they trust.”

Additionally, stores with veteran salespeople that have been there for decades is often a good sign. Lanning said, “This tells me the dealership is fair.” Staff that’s well treated and makes a decent living tends to stick around.

So, you’ve found a place to shop and a good salesperson. Great! But your work isn’t finished. It’s also advisable to know what you’re looking for. Again, vehicle reviews and purchasing advice from websites like (there’s nothing wrong with a little shameless self promotion) can make your life appreciably easier. “Do your research and then there are no surprises,” said Lanning.

It’s important to compare standard features and fuel economy, pricing and safety ratings. “If all the crash dummies got killed then I wouldn’t go look at that car,” said Lanning with a chuckle. Still, you don’t always need to know exactly what you want before going to a dealer. Sales professionals should be educated in the products they’re offering.

Trust is also an important thing. “I know that’s hard for some people,” said Lanning, to have faith in a dealer. “I’m not stupid. I will help you if you allow me to.” Remember, he doesn’t get paid unless he closes the deal; it’s in his best interest to make you happy so you sign the dotted line.

Money Matters

But there’s more to being an educated consumer than knowing where to shop and what kind of vehicles to look at. Josh Lewis, a former salesman at a Mazda/Kia store in North Carolina said people should know their credit scores before setting foot inside a dealership.

Lewis also said buyers should know what they’re able to spend. During his stint in sales he said people that could afford a $30,000 car would come in and try to haggle for a model costing 50 grand or more. Naturally this is a waste of time for both parties involved.

As a sale progresses Lewis said some other big things customers should ask about are interest fees and the financial institutions the dealer is shopping. Terms and rates car vary wildly. He also said, “I recommend people try to find out some information before they go into finance.” Shopping at your own bank or credit union is a no-brainer.

On the subject of money Lewis said, “Do not, DO NOT let anyone run your credit unless there’s a deal you want to do [that day].” This can be detrimental because, “Every time they open up your credit score they’re dinging [it a few points].” If you know what your rating is he said you can just tell them and spare any unnecessary damage to your score.

Politeness Police

You catch more flies with honey than vinegar and you probably stand a good chance of getting a nice deal if you’re polite and honest with the salesperson. “Car salesmen get a bad rap and probably deservedly so,” Lanning said, adding that a lot of them are not straight with buyers. “Most of the crap about the car industry has been around for years … most people have heard the scary stories.”

But Lanning cautioned, “It’s all about attitude. I’d much rather be of assistance to someone that’s a little bit open to listen to my opinions than someone that’s going to come in and tell me how to do my job.” Figuratively speaking he said don’t show up with “your guns loaded” fixin’ for a fight.

Showing the salesperson that you’re not a complete dick or simply there to waste his time joyriding in cars can improve your odds of having an amicable relationship. “Once you establish that line of credibility they back down, you back down … It becomes less of ‘how I can take advantage’ and more of equals,” Lewis said...
For much more about this story, Tips From a Salesman on How to Buy a Car please visit
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