Help me close the deal on a new car!
June 24, 2015 8:33 AM   Subscribe

My wife and I are in the process of buying a new car for the first time. So far things have proceeded fairly smoothly, but I just wanted to be clear on how the steps should proceed as we enter the end game.

We have narrowed our choices down to two cars from two different dealerships and are almost certainly going to make a decision within the next 24 hours. Assuming that we do, is this how I should expect it to go down?

1. We call/meet with the dealer and inform him of our decision (the price will have been negotiated in advance).
2. He has our car delivered to the lot (if it is not immediately available, and my impression was that it probably won't be).
3. When it arrives he gives us the VIN#, I call my insurance company and they fax the proof of insurance to the dealer.
4. We go to the dealer, pay for the car and sign all the necessary paperwork.

Or would we be expected to pay/sign for the car before it is shipped to the dealer? I would feel a bit odd about paying for the car before actually laying eyes on it, but perhaps because it is a brand-new car this is not how it's done? Anyway, any insight the hive mind could provide me with would be greatly appreciated!
posted by The Card Cheat to Travel & Transportation (16 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
They may ask for a small deposit. They shouldn't ask you to buy sight unseen. Also beware of these new tricks dealers do to add extra profit.

1. Documentation fee. This can be anywhere from 100 to 400 or even more. It is a total profit. Essentially charging you to write a receipt. They can charge for Registry fees, and in some states they can collect sales tax. No documentation fees!

2. Driver fee. If the car is not on their lot they may try to charge you for sending someone to get the car. Again total BS.
posted by Gungho at 9:00 AM on June 24, 2015

No, you don't pay for the car until you are able to take delivery of the car.
posted by AugustWest at 9:04 AM on June 24, 2015

Response by poster: > and in some states they can collect sales tax.

Thanks! I should have said that we live and are buying the car in Ontario, Canada.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:11 AM on June 24, 2015

I bought my last two cars new (also in Ontario) and in both cases only provided a small-ish deposit when placing the order. The most recent one was $1,000 deposit. Once the car was ready to be picked up, I showed up at the dealership with a certified cheque for the remaining amount.
posted by FishBike at 10:48 AM on June 24, 2015

Best answer: sign all the necessary paperwork

They will probably sit you down in a small office with a finance person to sign the paperwork. That person's real job is to up sell you on all sorts of expensive stuff like extended factory warranty, clear coat, plastic film for rock dints, Scotchguard for fabric upholstery, etc. There are just two rules to remember.

1. Say no.
2. If in doubt, refer to rule number 1.

Extended warranties are generally a bad idea, but keep in mind that you can always buy one later from any auto dealer. They will try to tell you that this is your best deal or last chance for a warranty but that isn't true. You can almost always buy the identical factory warranty later at a lower price from an internet dealer. No dealer will ever refuse to sell you a factory warranty at any time because it is pure profit for them. The only question is the price.

The same goes of all the other extras if you happen to change your mind. You can buy them at the same or better price regardless of what they say now. Why wouldn't they? It's pure profit.
posted by JackFlash at 10:56 AM on June 24, 2015

Best answer: It sounds like you've already worked out the price on both of the cars your considering. If so, then yes, call the dealer and tell them you want to buy that car. He might ask for a $100 check or something before they go get the car. This puts "money in the till" so that the dealer knows they have a sale before they put a bunch of effort into procuring the exact car you want (which will probably be a trade with another dealer).

They'll wait until they have the car there before they call you in to do all the paperwork. Once you've driven the car off the lot, you own it and lose the ability to back out of the deal. It's the final step in the process so they want to make sure that you have a little chance as possible to change your mind. Once you've "signed out" with the finance manager they'll deliver the car. The salesperson will go over some of the features and the manual. You might get a spiel about a survey that you'll get. Do them a favor and give them top marks on the whole thing unless something really went wrong.

Also keep in mind that the finance manager (who does all the paperwork) will present a bunch of add-on products, most of which are...not a good value. However, keep in mind that EVERY number he shows you is negotiable. The only exception is the interest rate on the loan IF it's a factory backed program. If it's a regular loan through whichever bank they got the best rate from, it's possible that you can negotiate a lower rate with them. The price of any service contracts, gap insurance, under-body coatings, etc are all totally negotiable too.
posted by VTX at 11:18 AM on June 24, 2015

Best answer: Deposits are commonplace in Ontario. We've paid anywhere from $500 to $1000 to essentially commit to the deal.

What we've been through is like this:
-price negotiation, then finalized by deposit
-dealer gives you the VIN
-contact insurance, they issue proof to the dealership
-if you've financed independently of the dealership, you bring a money order/bank draft to the dealership
-you go get your car.
posted by bonehead at 11:22 AM on June 24, 2015

Best answer: No, you don't pay for the car until you are able to take delivery of the car.


Lots of people are so jazzed about driving their new car off they lot they don't give the car even the slightest inspection apart from the "training" that the salesman will give you while handing over the keys.

Take it for a hard drive around the block with the salesman in the passenger seat. Point out every glitch and rattle. Test the heater, A/C, wipers, fan, windows, etc etc etc. It's amazing how much stuff the dealership can tweak for free to get you to close the deal. Afterward? Much harder.
posted by JoeZydeco at 11:45 AM on June 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks so much for all of this! Just to clarify where we're at and respond to some of the points you've made:

- we've already test-driven (city and highway) the one car we're interested in twice, and going in tonight to test the other car we're looking at a second time
- after testing the first car a second time we had the back-and-forth with the dealer and his manager and settled (verbally; they wouldn't give it to me in writing) on an out-the-door price.
- this price included a rebate for buying it in cash and was a couple hundred dollars lower than the best OTD price I was quoted (verbally and by email) by various other dealerships around the city; I made sure they knew that I had contacted other dealerships. As far as I can tell from poking around online, it seems like a reasonable price for the car in question.
- tonight I expect to go through the same process with the second car and then we will make our decision tomorrow
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:18 PM on June 24, 2015

settled (verbally; they wouldn't give it to me in writing) on an out-the-door price.

A word of warning: they may or may not honour this. Of course, that gives you full rights to walk out the door. The best thing in a car negotiation you can do is leave if it get s hinky.
posted by bonehead at 12:34 PM on June 24, 2015 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: I'm fully prepared to walk if they don't honour that price tomorrow.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:42 PM on June 24, 2015

Ask them if they will give you a portion of the kickback if you finance. Check whether you can pay out the loan at any time with no penalty. Weigh that up.

Say no to documentation fees. In some provinces, they are illegal and considered fraudulent. They still present them to people.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 12:46 PM on June 24, 2015

Some finance guys are actually dedicated to their craft and customer service and are just happy to get something. We had preapproved finance at some ridiculously low rate (1.95% I think). They asked us if they could try to match it, we said sure. They got another half a percent off with the same conditions. Don't be afraid to let the finance guys try if you are financing. The worst that happens is you decline after they are done.
posted by Talez at 4:34 PM on June 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh. yeah. Don't forget to ask the finance guy if there are any rebates or programs the salesperson may have missed. I got an extra $500.00 for a "competitive" trade-in.
posted by Gungho at 9:57 AM on June 25, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks again, everyone! We bought one of the cars this morning; I'm happy to report there were no last-minute shenanigans, or even attempted shenanigans, by the dealer.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:55 AM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Congrats and good luck with the new car!
posted by JoeZydeco at 11:58 AM on June 25, 2015

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