Car buying is daunting, but especially with today's interest rates and uncertain inventory.
Buyers should always do their research and ask questions.
Car dealers offered some tips about getting the best deal.
Car buying is always a daunting task, especially with high interest rates, uncertain inventory, and the economy weighing on shoppers' minds.
There are plenty of things consumers can do to make the right choice and get the best deal amid all of that. First, there are nine questions to always ask when making a car purchase.
Dealers — who know the ins-and-outs of the auto-buying market — have a few more tips for the best way to get a deal and navigate the process.
Customers have more room to ask questions of dealers
Car buyers had a difficult past few years, but things are getting better for them in terms of inventory and incentives, said Patrick Beck, dealer principal at Bakersfield Hyundai in California. That means dealers are prepared to make a deal more than ever. Customers also have more room to ask about pricing than they did during the pandemic supply-crunch.
"The best advice would be if it's time, come on in and let's look at what we got and let's put it all on paper," Beck said. "We want a relationship with you because look, we can sell everybody in our market one car and still go broke. We have to sell you over and over again.
"We want to dazzle you. We want to show you what we have to offer," Beck added. "Just simply ask. We are in no different shape than we've ever been in."
Research ahead of time, especially lending options
Buyers need to do their research, Matthew Eldridge, a product specialist at BMW of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, said.
"What options do you really want? What options do you think you need? What options can you go without?" Eldridge said. Thinking about all of those things before walking into a dealership to buy something is crucial.
Research is always important, but especially surrounding lending. Customers should try to reach out to other lending institutions to see if they can get away from the higher interest rate offerings that in-house financing might offer.
"The dealership may not be able to get you what your credit union can get you," he said.
Don't wait if you need a car now
Even as the market normalizes a bit, there are still hard-to-predict factors to keep in mind, Scott Kunes, COO of Kunes Auto and RV Group in the Midwest, said.
"Most of the manufacturers are talking about how there are still supply chain constraints. So I don't expect to see a days' supply that we saw before where there were really massive incentives to get these vehicles to move," he said. "I think there's still some pent up demand there that may start to push that supply down again.
Because of the potential inventory crunch, "most times I say, don't wait," he added.
But if you can hold off buying, consider it
It depends what a buyer cares about more. If they want options, Kunes said now might be the time. But holding off on a purchase, if possible, might get someone better interest rates, incentives, and prices overall, Adam Lee, chairman of the board at Lee Auto Malls in Maine, said.
The average new car sold for $48,763 in February, according to Kelley Blue Book, down from January's $49,468 and December's $49,507. That downward trend may continue as the economy becomes more uncertain.
"Wait if you can," Lee said. "If you don't have to buy one now, don't buy it now, because they're expensive."
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