(STATEPOINT) — Play your cards right and you can save big when replacing your car. The key is knowing where there’s real money on the table.
Here are five proven ways to maximize savings when purchasing a vehicle, according to the experts at Autotrader, the leading online marketplace for buying and selling cars.
Target Mid-Level Models
Before pulling the trigger on the fully loaded model of a car, compare its price to the model line’s base price. The loaded version could cost around 50 percent more than the stripped-down special.
You could probably buy the base model of a considerably nicer car for the same money. Target a mid-level specification of your chosen vehicle with meaningful upgrades.
Your heart may be set on a particular new car, but when did the current version of that car debut?
For example, the brand-new Honda Accord at your local Honda dealer will be a 2015 model, but the same platform, features and styling have been in use since 2013. You’ll get essentially the same car if you buy a used 2013 or 2014 vehicle.
Plus, like Honda, most manufacturers’ certified pre-owned (CPO) programs include full reconditioning by factory-trained technicians, along with a competitive warranty.
Consider purchasing lightly used models for thousands less than new. With a few exceptions, the CPO warranty makes it almost like buying new. Many brands even offer extras, such as a free satellite radio trial and free maintenance and roadside assistance.
If you’re looking into CPO programs, consider such brands as Honda, Chevrolet, Ford, Kia and Lexus.
Buy from Dealer Stock
Buying from dealer stock often requires flexibility, because you’re choosing from what the dealer ordered, as opposed to ordering exactly what you want. But on the flip side, dealers have a strong incentive to move existing inventory.
For substantial savings, take a good look at available inventory among all the nearby dealerships, and distant dealerships that offer long-distance delivery, to see if there’s anything close to what you want.
Watch out for dealerships eager to take your trade-in, as they typically won’t offer retail value. While this transaction is easy, it may cost you hundreds, if not thousands when compared to selling your car on the open market. Of course, you’ll need to be willing to spend time waiting for the right buyer. An Autotrader classified ad is a great place to start.
Pay Attention to Finance & Insurance
Finance & Insurance (F&I) is where dealers make a lot of their money. The key is to be a hard-nosed, well-informed shopper. Listen to what the dealership has to offer, but be ready with a backup plan that includes your own financing options. Make sure you read all the fine print on any warranties offered. There are good deals to be had, but it’s also easy to be taken to the cleaners. Those with excellent credit may be offered factory rebates and 0 percent financing.
Educated car shoppers can save themselves a lot of money if they know how the business works, stress experts.