Depending on your area there may be slim pickings as far as vehicles go. This happened to a friend and I just recently because we were both in the market for a new or lightly-used car, yet we both live in small towns. The better deals were hours away which meant we didn’t have the advantage of talking face-to-face with the owner/dealer. We did, however, do our research and found ways to make sure we were getting the best bang for our buck even though the cars were out of town.
Here are five of the most useful items we discovered in our research:
- Understanding the Geographical Wear & Tear – It’s important to know the history of the car not just to understand if it was well-kept but also to know where it was during its run. Cars coming from up north may have a great deal of rust due to the salt spread down on roads during the winter months. Cars in the south may have extensive fading due to the intense sun and heat. Asking the owner/dealer about the geographical history of the car can help you avoid any potential problems down the road because of these types of conditions.
- Pickup vs Delivery – If you know you’re set on the vehicle, the next logical thought is how you’ll pick it up. Since the vehicle is at a long-distance location you’ll want to factor in the time, gas, and help (from friends or family) in order to pick it up. If it seems like it’s not worth the time and money (on your own), then at that point it’s worth considering car transport services that can collect your new purchase, have it shipped to you at a respectable rate, and you won’t need to worry about trying to drive it back without insurance or a tag.
- Practice the Art of Haggling – Unless you’re in desperate need of a car immediately, you should give yourself enough time to haggle the price of the vehicle. Browse around the various car websites, Craigslist, and other online boards and you’ll see you’re not going to miss out on great deals to begin with. By taking your time, practicing your haggling abilities, and putting them into effect, you could potentially shave thousands of dollars off the asking price. If someone doesn’t agree, it’s no biggie since you can move onto the next prospect without feeling that face-to-face guilt.
- Know the Best Timing – Dealers need to make quotas, individual sellers may be strapped for cash, and the economy is always in a flux. Know the best times to purchase a car and you’ll save. Generally this timing is later into the month when dealers are trying to get rid of inventory, or around tax season when owners are expected to clear their vehicles. With the timing down right you can negotiate killer prices since dealers don’t want to get stuck footing the bill to keep a car around.
- Show Up Short – It may sound a little sleazy but if you were to show up with cash on hand (below the actual value) you could drive off with the vehicle. Upfront cash is a hard proposition to turn down. If you figure a vehicle may run $5,000 from an owner try arriving with $4,000 and mention how you came up short but were still interested. The owner will see that cash on hand and may not be able to resist the deal, which nets you a cool $1,000 off the price.
Have you purchased a car that wasn’t within your general vicinity? What did you do to ensure you were saving the most amount of money (and hassle) on the purchase?