Buying A Car: Tips for Comparing, Negotiating and Adding Accessories || *Disclosure: Everything in this article is based off personal experiences and opinions and in no way should be considered or accepted as professional advice.
Vroom Vroom I got myself a car! Just to catch you up, I am in week three of owning a new *used* Toyota Camry. (And it’s red!) I absolutely love and am proud of this purchase because of the negotiation process and the actual car itself.
Get In Loser, We’re Going Car Shopping
Okay, let’s backtrack a couple weeks ago. Yes, weeks ago. My poor little 2009 Ford Escape was ready for retirement. It cried with every warning light it could give me. So, with the help of a family friend, we started the hunt for my next SUV. Moving into a new SUV would be an easy transition with my years in an Escape and with the use I get out of my car. Well, I didn’t like ANY of them. They just weren’t me. *Sigh*
A not-so-secret secret is I’ve always wanted a Chrysler 300, or the Cadillac CTS if we’re really dreaming. However, I wouldn’t necessarily purchase a Chrysler because of the stigma. And if you know me, I don’t exactly fit the bill on that one (and in literal cases if we’re talking about the Cadillac). But while physically searching through all the SUV’s on my list, I would always end my visit looking at the Chryslers. Then it hit me… Why don’t I just get a sedan! So the search for safe and reliable sedans began.
And a little insight to why I should never give out my opinion… A couple days prior to signing for my car I uttered the words “I’ll never get a Toyota… It just sounds boring.” Three days later I was test driving my soon-to-be Red Camry and was more excited than I have been in any car.
Sell Me This
Now the fun part began – negotiating. The best lesson I have learned is that the sticker price on the windshield is NOT the price you will be paying. It’s simply the asking price, so ask for a lower price.
- COMPARE: Compare the price you see on the window to the price they have online. If it’s lower online, you’ve already lowered your price.
- ASK QUESTIONS: Don’t be afraid to check for price increases or decreases the car may have had and ask the dealership for their reasons for any price hikes. This can all be seen on the CARFAX.
- REMOVE THE EXTRA FEES: I wanted used only because I could track it’s actual safety reviews. However, all added features and accessories can also be negotiated since you aren’t allowed to customize. Fun fact: I got ALL my accessory charges removed! (Tinting, New plastic gripping, the new GPS system placed and the exterior lighting).
- WALK AWAY: Don’t be afraid to walk away. I did this a couple of times with other locations and it never removed the last offer they made. I wanted to truly compare the cars and could only do that by walking away. Sometimes, this worked out for an even better offer from the dealership.
- TRADE-IN TIMING: If you’re doing a trade-in, wait till the end. I’ve heard they like to sneak in the trade-in offer to your initial purchase package. But it’s also good to see how much people are willing to buy your car off of you. I ultimately chose selling it to the dealership vs someone online solely because of the tax difference I would end up paying. (No taxes on trade-in’s, FYI.)
- REFINANCE OPTIONS: Do your homework and shop around for a great loan. The dealership offered loan options that were more than double the rate at my credit union. Even a major bank was almost a whole percent cheaper than it was a dealership. Again, this may very much be an independent scenario, but it’s always worth looking around prior to car shopping.
- Last tip, because it’s what allowed me to buy my car at an incredible price: Simply, NEGOTIATE.
Now, before we get too excited. Let’s also remember the many (and add an extra stress to “many”) fees California likes to tack onto those auto purchases. Not only will you be filling out the paperwork for the car itself and the loan to finance it (if needed), but you will also be filling out forms for the DMV. Unfortunately, these fees are non-negotiable.
You will also need to call your Insurance to make sure your new car is transferred over to your coverage. This may lead a higher premium. (Only a personal experience, not professional advice.)
It’s All About the Accessories
Sure, my car came with all it’s bells and whistles. But it’s still a used car, so there were a couple things I wanted/needed to add.
My 2018 Camry was just a year short of automatically having it installed. But for only $140, Toyota Service Center can upgrade the system in your car to install Apple CarPlay. And it was a world of difference! The price may vary from location, but the system and labor, with tax, totaled $140 with a 5-hour service wait.
The downside of getting a used car was that the car only came with one set of keys. And as a self-proclaimed JIC (just in case) girl, I had to make a spare ASAP. You can cough up $600-700 by letting the Toyota dealership make them — at least you know they’l make it right. Or you can go to an Ace Hardware or Autozone for half the price. You will have to check per location as not every location, for both stores, have the ability to create Push-to-Start Key Fobs.
I cannot count how many times my poor Ford was hit while parked. Dings and scratches added up to its sad retirement and it is not a fate I will allow to be made with the Camry. A dash cam is necessary for my peace of mind since I live and work in LA. I shopped around and was ultimately purchased the VAVA Dual Front-Rear Dash Camera. It not only records while driving, but it will also grab recordings while parked. That way you can capture a hit-and-run that is unfortunately super common in a big city.