Get the Best Deal on a Family Car

As stressful as finding the right car for your family can be, it’s nothing compared with figuring out how to pay for it. There’s no getting around the fact that cars are expensive. And family cars, with their extra seating and features, can quickly deflate a family budget. But, by taking your time, researching and approaching buying a family car like the business transaction it is, you can get the right car for your family without raiding anyone’s college fund.

Do Your Homework

You tell your kids to do their homework so they’ll be prepared for tests. The same is true for buying a car. Knowing how much other people are paying for the car you want before you start negotiating puts you in a better bargaining position. There won’t be any question about how much you should be paying, and you’ll know if you’re getting a fair deal.

There are plenty of ways to find out how much you should be paying for a new car. For example, if you check out the review of the Honda Odyssey on U.S. News Autos, you’ll see a range of average prices paid at the top of the page. Those prices are based on real-time data from actual Odyssey sales. For negotiating, you’ll want more detail, so click on the prices tab on the review page where you can get the average price people in your area pay for the exact model and options you want. That’s a powerful negotiating tool.

It’s also easy to find the latest discounts and incentives on a new car by checking out our car deals pages. Other sites have similar features. Don’t depend on the dealer to let you know what the best deal is. Figure out how much others are paying and find out what discounts are available before you start negotiating.

Take Your Time

The days of sitting in a cramped office, drinking stale coffee while a car salesman takes your offer to his manager are over. That’s when the dealers had all the power. Now, you can take your time and negotiate with multiple dealers, all from the comfort of home.

A number of websites allow you to submit your information and let dealers compete for your business. On U.S. News Autos, you can  get price quotes from any car’s review page. You enter your contact information and the exact trim and options you want, and dealers contact you with their best offers. Of course, it doesn’t end there. Once you see what up to four dealers are offering, you can do a little work to get the best deal. Take the lowest offer submitted, and see if the other dealers will beat it. You can do all of this over email, with no pressure and no hassle. Once you have the deal that works for you, you can go to the dealership, finish the paperwork and pick up your car.

If you don’t feel like negotiating at all, use a price guarantee system. These services pre-negotiate prices with dealers so you’re guaranteed a good one. U.S. News offers its Best Price Program, where the savings average $4,025 below MSRP.

Leave the Kids at Home

The final step in getting the best deal on a new family car is to go to the dealership and do the final paperwork. If you’ve done your homework, this should be no big deal. Just print out and bring any communication between you and the dealer. If you used a negotiation service, bring your certified price certificate.

It’s important to bring the paperwork because while the vast majority of car dealers are honest, there are a few who might try to change the contract when you get into the dealership. If that’s the case, work with another dealer.

While you should bring the kids when you’re testing cars, leave them at home when you’re doing the paperwork. Even if you’ve negotiated the price online, there’s still a lot of paperwork to read and decisions to make. Make no mistake, this is work. And just like you wouldn’t want your kids to distract you while you draft an important report for your boss, you don’t want them to distract you while you review the fine print on your new car. Plus, car dealerships are boring. Everyone will be happier – and you’ll be able to catch issues and errors that could cost you money – if the kids stay with a sitter.

Hit the Road

As with any big-ticket purchase, it’s common for people to get buyer’s remorse when they buy a car. That remorse can be even sharper if you don’t feel like you got a good deal. If you do your research, know what a good deal is, work with dealers at your own pace and treat buying a car like any other business transaction, you’ll be less likely to worry that you spent too much. And, in addition to having a great new family car, you can be sure that you also have enough cash left over to take the family out and celebrate getting a new set of wheels.