We Need a New Car — Where Do We Begin? (Part 1)

April 4th, 2016 by

2016 Honda PilotThere is a truly astounding volume of information available to today’s consumer. Unfortunately, there is also a lot of misinformation out there mixed in with it all. Once you’ve decided that it’s time for a new ride, wading through all of this can be a daunting task. So let’s simplify things a little bit!

Where Do I Begin?

Research is a critical portion of finding the right vehicle for you. However, you could spend every waking moment sifting through specifications, special offers, customer reviews and industry ratings. If we don’t find a way to organize this information in a manner we can easily understand, it quickly becomes a giant pile of useless data. This, of course, does nothing to help you make an informed decision.

The first area we need to address is your personal information, including relevant documentation and values on the vehicle you currently own.

Get All of Your Information Ready First!

As we mentioned when we introduced this series, there is a certain amount of information that everyone involved with your new vehicle purchase will need, so it’s best to have as much of this information gathered as possible before you walk into a dealership. This will allow you to take charge of your experience and avoid any surprises that might hinder your goals. Let’s go through the most important information first.

Title, Registration, and Payoff Information

It sounds like obvious pieces of the puzzle. However, many of us walk into a dealership with only a guess as to how much we owe on our current vehicle, and often we show up without all the paperwork we need to trade our current vehicle in.

Contact your lien-holder directly and ask for the exact payoff. With this information, you will be able to more accurately determine if you are in a position to purchase a new vehicle, and have a much clearer picture of the kind of down payment you may need to come up with. And of course, make sure you have a copy of your current registration and the title.

Approximate Trade Value

Alright, we all know this is one of the muddier areas of the process. There are literally thousands of variables that can ultimately determine trade-in value and there are countless websites offering to tell you how much your vehicle is worth. Depending on how much information they gather from you, you’ll receive a wide range of possible values for your current vehicle. Most websites are providing an “educated guess” at the value your vehicle holds, but the internet alone cannot account for all the “love” your vehicle has acquired along its journey.

When you show up at the dealership, you will often find the value they place on your car is very different from the number you had in mind. Once you realize the information you brought with you has turned out to be incorrect, you find yourself uninformed and at the mercy of the dealership. The blame for this doesn’t fall on the consumer or the dealer, but rather is a natural consequence of one simple fact: no one has seen your vehicle until you show up at a dealership. Luckily, there is a nationally trusted third-party website that offers a unique solution.

Checking out a carClick here and check out KBB Instant Cash Offer. It’s a simple process that pairs you with a local dealership that will professionally appraise your vehicle for free. Don’t worry — your inbox won’t be flooded with spam from every car dealer on the planet. Only certain dealerships are able to partner with Kelley Blue Book on this program, and the offer is backed by KBB themselves rather than the individual dealers.

The site will lead you through the initial process, gathering all the information they need to know about your vehicle. Once everything’s entered, you’ll receive an accurate offer from KBB on your vehicle. Notice we used the word “offer” and not “value”. This isn’t just a guess — KBB actually WANTS TO BUY your vehicle. The locally partnered dealership will contact you to verify the condition of your vehicle with a free, professional appraisal. Once everything is confirmed as accurate, Kelley Blue Book will back their offer with cash.

Now you can walk into any dealership with a solid, verified number for your current vehicle backed by a real cash offer! This is powerful information and will help put you at ease, making the entire experience less stressful for you.

Know Your Credit Score

This is one area that is, quite honestly, difficult to simplify for consumers. Each bank uses their own system to calculate credit scores. Each individual system will have hundreds of “beacons,” and which one applies to you depends on a wide range of factors. However, knowing your credit score beforehand will give you a general idea of where you stand. It will also give you an opportunity to correct any mistakes on your credit report now rather than being ambushed and sidelined by them later.

Monthly Payment Goal

If you’ve ever shopped for a new or used vehicle, you’ve undoubtedly had a salesman ask, “So, what’s your payment goal?”

Don’t worry — they aren’t trying to pry anything out of you, and they usually aren’t looking to use this information against you. They’re actually trying to address a common “speed bump” they encounter: many consumers have a general idea of what they want their payment to be, but most haven’t really put pencil to paper.

Many customers find a vehicle they fall in love with, go home to “do the math” on the payment, only to come back the next day and find that someone else purchased the vehicle they were looking at. When this happens you can quickly find yourself starting over at square one. Doing some budgeting homework ahead of time can save you time when you’re ready to buy, rather than complicate and delay the process.

Now You’re Ready for the Next Step!

Ok, so now you know everything about your current vehicle and we have all the documentation gathered, we will need to successfully trade it in for that shiny new one we’ve had our eye on. Our trade in offer is a real number, backed up with a cash offer by a nationally trusted company. We also know where our credit rating stands and have cleared up any errors we found on our report. We’ve determined our monthly payment goals, and now we are ready to take the next step.

So, what about that shiny new car? Is it safe, is it reliable, do people actually like to drive it and which dealership can I trust when I’m ready to take a test drive? Next we will discuss, in depth, the best methods and places to conduct your research. There’s a whole world of information out there…join us next week and let’s sift through it together.

Jeremy Kropp

Marketing Manager, Klamath Falls Honda and Subaru

Posted in Car-Buying Advice