How to Get the Best Deal on a New Car
If you search across the country and are willing to travel far, you can get amazing deals on new cars. Unfortunately, the best price isn’t always the best deal.
A few months ago, my wife and I realized we wanted a larger car for our growing family. While our seven- and 10-year-old cars drove just fine, they weren’t as big as we’d like for our 12-hour road trips to visit the in-laws. In the end, we decided to purchase a brand new 2018 Honda Odyssey minivan that had been on the market for just a couple of months.
We knew finding a good deal on a brand-new Honda Odyssey would be difficult, but I was willing to put in some work to find a decent price. After all, what is spending a few hours price shopping if it could save you thousands of dollars? Here’s what I learned about how to get the best deal on a new car:
I knew to get the best price on our new minivan, I’d have to do some research. Luckily, the research wasn’t difficult. I Googled “Price paid for 2018 Honda Odyssey” and up popped a forum in which Honda Odyssey enthusiasts discussed exactly how much they paid for their new cars.
Most cars have similar enthusiast forums that you can use to find the pricing on the new car you want. Simply do a Google search for your particular model.
After reading through the responses, I had a good idea of what I should pay. Now I just had to find a dealership willing to sell me a car for the right price.
Getting quotes for a new car can be daunting. Dealerships never want to show all their cards early. Plus, different dealers will include a variety of costs that make comparing quotes difficult. That’s why it’s super important to ask for the final price that will be on the documents you sign, commonly called the out-the-door price.
I emailed every dealer located within a few hours of my home that had the car I wanted. They provided me with out-the-door price quotes. I wasn’t exactly excited about what I was offered.
The Best Offer Was Far, Far Away
Based on my research, I also emailed a dealership in Chicago that had the best price anyone had paid to date. The dealer quickly responded with an amazing quote, offering to sell the car for $2,000 less than everyone else.
I didn’t like the idea of flying to Chicago, picking up a car, and then driving 14 hours home. On the other hand, the $2,000 savings made the trip very tempting.
In fact, my wife and I had decided I should do it. However, before I flew to Chicago, we wanted to make sure it was the right car, trim, and color combination for us. I found the exact same car at a dealership 90 miles away that we could test-drive.
Once there, we looked at all the features, made sure the trim was what we wanted and test-drove the car. We liked what we saw, and I was ready to book a flight to Chicago to pick up our car. But first we decided to try to talk price with the dealership. I told them I was about to book a flight to Chicago, but if they gave me the right price, I’d buy today.
Why I Paid More and Bought Local
The night before we made the 90-mile drive to check out the exact car we wanted, my wife and I sat down and decided to crunch some numbers. We knew flying to Chicago and driving back home would cost us both money and time. In total, we discovered the trip would run us approximately $555 in flight, fuel, and food costs, as well as depreciation on the vehicle for 900 miles.
We also decided that my time was worth $500 for the two days I’d be away. So if the second dealership would be willing to drop its price by about $1,000, we’d purchase the car there. The sales manager came back with a quote that was $1,250 lower than the initial asking price. We pulled the trigger and bought the car.
Yes, we paid $750 more than if I had flown to Chicago. But travel costs and the value of my time would end up costing more than that. I was super excited we had a new car — and I didn’t have to fly to Chicago to get it!
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