In light of the other thread about the special place in hell for car salesmen, I was wondering if any of you have good advice for a first-time car buyer?
Lots of good haggling tips at Edmunds
. They also have true market values of cars - basically a better version of the Kelley Blue Book. But note that these are just guides for prices and your mileage will vary.
From what I've heard you generally get a better deal on financing going through the dealership, and that seemed to be true after making a couple calls.
In general this is true. However, especially if you belong to a credit union, it may pay to shop around. Salesmen can and will use the interest rate as a haggling tool.
The car I have now isn't going to be worth squat to them as a trade-in, so I have saved enough for about a 15% down payment to avoid at least some of the interest charges.
How's your credit? That's more important. With good credit, depending on the brand you buy, you could very well get 0% interest.
Haggling. Ugh. I'm assuming this is a necessary evil for most dealerships, is there a hard and fast rule about how far below their price to aim? What about options and other incentives? How much room does one dealership have versus another if it is for the same model of car?
There's no hard and fast rule that I use. It depends a lot on the car. The more popular the car, the worse your position. The more cars on the lot, the better your position. Everything at a dealership can be negotiated - including options and incentives. Dealerships can vary wildly. One of the popular methods of haggling is to use e-mail, though it seems more and more dealerships no longer do this. Basically you get a price from Dealer X, then shoot an e-mail to Dealer Y asking if they can go lower. If they can, go back to Dealer X and ask if they can beat Dealer Y, etc, etc.