Car Buying Hacks

Are You in the Market for a New Car?

Whether it’s your first journey into the new car market, or you want to replace your older model vehicle that’s been a member of the family for a decade, it’s important to know that buying a car has changed since your dad bought his last Oldsmobile.

Here are some car-buying hacks you’ll want to know before beginning your journey to the dealership.

  • Bring Your Own Loan (but don’t tell them until you’ve made your best deal on the price). Believe it or not, the dealership is not necessarily the place to get the best loan. Interest rates tend to be lower at your credit union, unless the manufacturer has a rebate that requires using their financing.
  • Don’t (necessarily) trade in your car. According to, trading in your current vehicle is often not going to get you top dollar. Before you decide what to do with your current vehicle, check National Automobile Dealers Association prices at If the dealer’s offer comes close to NADA’s value, go ahead and take the offer. Otherwise, try to sell it yourself.
  • Don’t show all your cards. Meaning, don’t give away all of your information until they come down to the best price. Dealers earn income when they arrange the financing.
  • Force dealers to compete. Competition is a good thing and a powerful negotiating tool. When you decide the make and model you want, contact every dealer within a certain radius (within driving range) and request a quote. With little effort and a few emails, you will have the information you need. You can use the lower quotes as negotiating tools since dealers will want to match their competition’s offer.
  • Keep in mind, Carmax and Enterprise Car Sales do not negotiate their prices but you can still bring your own loan.
  • Dealer compensation. Dealers receive many kinds of compensation beyond the profits on our car purchase. They get bonuses for meeting quotas or performance tiers. Some dealers will sell a car at the end of the month at a loss if it bumps them into the next tier because of what it means to their take-home pay.
  • Refinance when you can. If you’re buying a new car with a rebate tied to financing, go ahead and finance the car with the dealer. Keep the loan with them as long as is required by the terms of the rebate and refinance with MCCU.
  • Reserve the right to walk away. The sales person needs the sale more than you need to buy. Take advantage of your position of strength and walk out unless you find the right car at the price you’re most comfortable.
  • Skip the add-ons. Whether it’s the extended warranty, gap, payment protection, etching, under-coatings, or aftermarket rims, dealers make a fortune on the add-ons. Brand new cars come with a very good manufacturer’s warranty. Buying an additional extended warranty on top of it might give you peace of mind, but you likely will never use it. Be sure to get a quote from MCCU if you are interested in an extended warranty.

It’s a fact of life, buying a car can be a stressful financial decision. Although you usually make this decision only once every few years, when you do decide to enter a dealership, you are facing off with someone who deals with car sales every single day. By doing some homework before you walk into a dealership, you’ll be better prepared to negotiate your best deal on your new car.