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Should I Buy a Car From a Dealership?

Education | 07/17/2023 18:04

Car dealerships used to be the only name in the game if you wanted a new car, but nowadays you have another option: buying a car online. So how can you decide if buying a car from a dealership is the right move for you?

Here’s how you can decide if you should buy a car from a dealership.

What are the advantages of buying a car at a dealership?

Buying a car from a dealership has some significant advantages over buying online. The human element is one of the top advantages, as you can actually talk to a salesperson and let them guide you through your options. 

You can get advice.

Car dealerships have salespeople who can help you immensely if you are unsure on the exact vehicle you want. Even if you know the make and model you want, there are endless options when it comes to upgrades and trim levels. Salespeople can help explain your options and pick out the exact car that will work for you.

You can negotiate. 

Dealerships also provide a way for you to negotiate. When you buy a car online, you are unable to negotiate the price. Everything is cut and dry online, whereas shopping at a dealership will allow you to cut down the sticker price or possibly have some fees waived

You may get a manufacturer incentive. 

Buying at a dealership means that you may be eligible for manufacturer incentives. These incentives can vary greatly and may include 0% financing, a cash rebate, or equipment upgrade. 

What are the disadvantages of buying a car at a dealership?


There are some disadvantages to buying a car at a dealership as well. Your options may be more limited and you may get swayed into options that you do not want or need. So for some people, buying online may be a more comfortable option.


It takes more time.

It’s hard to beat the convenience of shopping for a new car from the comfort of your home. Buying a car at a dealership will take much more time and may require multiple trips to multiple dealerships to get the car that you truly want. The negotiation process will take more time as well, as you cannot simply click a button and wait for your car to arrive.


You may have less options.

When you buy online, everything is at your fingertips. Whatever make, model, color, and options that you want are available to you. This may not be true for your local dealership, which may not even carry the make and model car that you are interested in. 


You may get persuaded into something you don’t need.

Salespeople earn commissions, so it’s in their best interest to increase the amount you are paying as much as possible. And this may mean that you will get talked into something that you don’t really want or need. It’s much easier to simply go online and select exactly what you want. You may also find that it is more difficult to walk away, even if you know that the car is not right for you.

How can I prepare for buying a car at a dealership?

If you feel like a dealership is your best option for purchasing a car, there are a number of steps you can take to make sure that you get the best deal (and best car) possible.

Do your research.

Do not make the mistake of going into a dealership unprepared. You should have a loose idea of what you are looking for (at the very least you should have a list of what you are looking for in a new car) and you should have a loose idea of the price. The more you know about what you want ahead of time, the more you can prepare for the price of the car. This will help you spot if you are being taken advantage of or if a dealer price is fair. 


You should also know how much you can afford to pay every month in car payments. Your total cost for transportation (car payments, insurance, maintenance, gas, parking, etc) should never be more than 20% of your total monthly income. 

Get pre approved.

Getting pre approved before you set foot in a dealership will help you in a few different ways. First off, it will show the salesperson that you are serious about buying a car and are prepared to do so. It will also mean that if the dealership wants you to finance with them they will need to work hard to beat your pre approved financing offer.

Shop around.

Do not go to just one car dealership when you are looking to buy a new car. Going to a few different dealerships will give you some more negotiating power and let you compare offers. 

Break down your financing into components.

When dealerships sell you a car they tend to focus on your monthly financing payments. They want you to focus on your monthly payments rather than showing you the overall picture. But this can get confusing. Monthly payments are largely determined by your repayment period. Any car is affordable if you are given a long enough time to pay it off. The longer that you are repaying your loan however, the more money you will pay over the life of it. 


Instead, focus on the out the door price first–the total cost of the car. Try to negotiate your sticker price down in a separate transaction before moving onto how exactly you will pay for the car. Putting a larger down payment will help keep your payments affordable and help ensure your loan won’t become underwater. 

Be prepared to walk away.

Dealerships can be intimidating and there may be a lot of pressure to sign on the dotted line. But you should only sign when you are 100% happy with all of the terms. Make sure that you have the exact car that you want and that the financing terms are fair. Dealers want to pressure you into making a sale because they know that once you leave the dealership their odds of making the sale have decreased significantly. But do not let their pressure sway you into a car and a deal that is not what you want.

That’s how you can decide if you should buy from a car dealership or not. 

There are pros and cons from buying at a dealership, but if you decide to purchase a car that way be sure to do your research and stand your ground.


If you are in an unhappy relationship with your current car lender, contact Auto Approve today!


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