Let’s start by making one thing perfectly clear: you do not want to rush through a car purchase. According to the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA), the average yearly ownership cost for an average compact car is about $9,500. That’s more than what the average Canadian spends on groceries ($5,400) in a year. So, considering you spend almost twice as much annually on a car than you do to feed yourself, it’s probably not a great idea to rush through the process of buying one. That said, for whatever reason, you might not have the time for a lengthy car buying process. Luckily, there are some steps you can take to speed up your car purchase. If you want to save yourself some time next time you’re at the dealership, here’s what you can do.
#1 Set a Budget
The first thing you can do to speed up your car purchase is set a budget. A common mistake people make when car shopping is neglecting to set a budget for themselves. The result: a lot of people bite off more than they can chew.
Setting a budget is important for several reasons. First, it will keep you from overspending. Having a firm spending limit will make it much easier to say no when the numbers start going too high. A budget is a good thing to have. Especially when the salesperson starts mentioning extra options, like a moonroof, or heated seats. Sweet, sweet heated seats.
Second, setting a budget will narrow your search to cars that fit within you price range. Oh, the 2018 Lincoln Navigator caught your eye? Too bad, it’s way over your $40,000 budget. Don’t torture yourself – move on.
Conduct an honest evaluation of your financial situation, and determine the absolute maximum amount that you can spend. That’s your limit – don’t go above it. It’s all too easy to get carried away and purchase a vehicle that’s beyond your means. Be realistic, and be insistent on staying within your budget.
Finally, don’t just look at the car’s MSRP pricing. Consider the total price of the car. If you’re paying cash, you must account for the additional taxes and fees involved. If you’re taking out a loan, you must consider the interest paid over the life of the loan. Also, be sure to factor in insurance, registration, maintenance, and operating costs into your budget.
#2 Make a List of Priorities
After you’ve set a budget, you can start to think about what you want from your future car. The first thing you should do is determine your needs. If you’re student who needs something dependable and cheap to get to and from campus, you don’t need a big, optioned-out pickup. Likewise, if you have a growing family, you can put away the sports-car catalogues. Instead, look for something with a backseat, like the new Nissan Murano.
Consider such criteria as:
- Fuel economy
- Resale value
- Transmission type
Get out a pen and paper. Write down everything you care about in a car, then rank it all by priority. Things like resale value and fuel economy should appear at the top of the list, while things like entertainment systems and sunroofs belong at the bottom. Knowing what you want and what’s important will do a lot to speed up your car purchase.
#3 Do Your Research
The third thing you can do to speed up your car purchase is conduct research. You shouldn’t go to the dealership without knowing at least a little about what you’re looking at. In fact, the more you know, the better off you’ll be. Take your list of criteria from the previous step. Then, do some research at home to discover which vehicles fit the bill.
The internet is the only tool you need for this step. Read car reviews, get a feel for price points, and arm yourself with as much knowledge you can. To find out which dealerships have the cars you’re interested in, you can check out their inventories online. With Go Auto, it’s easy – just click here and start your search. That way, you won’t waste any time going to dealerships that don’t have what you’re looking for.
#4 Get Your Paperwork in Order
Another thing you can do to speed up your car purchase is bring the right paperwork to the dealership. Bring your driver’s license, recent paystubs, and other documents that prove who you are and establish your place of residence. If you leave your paperwork at home, you could be adding another day to the whole process.
If your intention is to trade-in your vehicle, you must have the title with you. Dealerships will not accept a trade-in if you can’t prove that you own the vehicle. Also, it’s important to bring proof of insurance with you too. Even if you can’t add your new vehicle to your insurance right away, you must show that you have insurance.
You can always phone the dealerships beforehand to find out what you’re supposed to bring. But normally, they’ll ask for:
- Employer’s information
- Previous addresses
- A few references
The next thing you need to do is get your finances in order. Contact your bank or credit union to get preapproved for the loan you’ll need to buy your car. By getting preapproved, you’ll know the max loan amount you qualify for. You’ll also want to check your credit report, but be wary of having it pulled unnecessarily. Multiple inquiries can bring your credit score down.
At Go Auto, our in-house finance and insurance services will work to ensure you get your new wheels fast. Our in-house insurance team will give you quotes on the spot, and can write new policy right in the dealership. What’s more, monthly loans extended by Go Auto are reported to the major credit rating suppliers in Canada. That way, your creditors know you have a car loan in good standing.
In short, having all the right paperwork on hand will speed up your car purchase considerably.
#5 Be Open to Talk to Salespeople
The fifth and final thing you can do to speed up your car purchase is listen to salespeople. You’ve probably been told a hundred times that no one is scummier than a car salesperson. But that isn’t true, especially in today’s market. People today are more informed about their options than ever before, and the industry is aware of that. Salespeople know that if they try to swindle you into a bad deal, the chances you take your business elsewhere are high. It isn’t in their interest to chase away business, so most won’t do that. While there are some slime-balls out there that you should be wary of, most salespeople are just there to help. The best way to help them help you, so to speak, is to let them do their job.
Tell them what it is you’re looking for, don’t be stand-offish, and be open to their advice. After all, it’s their job to know the cars they sell, so they probably have some valuable insights to offer.
That said, don’t depend entirely on the goodwill of a salesperson. Do your research – the information you glean online will be your bargaining chips.
BONUS TIP: Pack a Lunch, You Could Be There a While
Whether you like it or not, car-shopping often takes a long time. Pack a snack, bring a mug of coffee, or whatever you need to make your time pass as smoothly as possible.
Besides, if you’re like me, your decision-making process is a lot clearer on a full stomach. And as we all know, there’s no shortage of decisions to make when purchasing a car.