Work the economic downturn to your advantage when new car shopping

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The recession hit the auto industry especially hard. Industry-wide sales have fallen to the lowest levels in a quarter century, according to the Not only are sales down, operating costs are up due to expensive finance charges on unsold vehicles.

What does this mean for you? Good news, if you play your cards right. Many dealers are so desperate to move new and used cars off their lots that they are willing to sell at discount prices.

So how do they make their money? By the mere fact that not every buyer is as well prepared as you are going to be. Here are five suggestions you should take into consideration before showing up at the dealership.

1. Know what you want. Do a little research using online sites like to determine which make and model is right for you and approximately how much it will cost. The site has some neat tools that allow you to do extensive car comparison research.

2. Know what you can afford. Once you know approximately what the car of your dreams will cost, go to your bank’s website and use the car loan calculator to estimate what your monthly payment would be.

3. Get prequalified for a car loan. Sometimes the dealers will offer car loan rates that are significantly better than those offered at banks; but not always, so it’s a good idea to know what you can qualify for from a lender you trust.

4. Use ads to negotiate. Many dealerships advertise a car at a lower cost in the newspaper or on the Internet. If you walk into the dealership without the ad in hand, however, they’ll quote you a higher price. Be sure to clip any ads you find, and don’t be afraid to bring them into a competitor’s dealership that’s closer to home. Often, the salespeople at your hometown dealership will be willing to honor the price to get your business.

5. Perhaps the most important piece of advice – set a budget before you go shopping. Take into consideration not only the cost of the car, but its anticipated fuel, upkeep and insurance costs as well. Most auto insurance companies have tools on their websites that allow you to get free quotes for the vehicle you are considering purchasing. If you need your new car to be delivered and the dealership doesn’t provide this service then use a company like Shiply, it’s a quick and simple process and the best way to find a car transportation service that’s suitable for you and your new car.