How To Avoid Showroom Anxiety

How many of you have stopped at a dealership―either planned or on a whim―only to be lured into the showroom to stare at that hot new sports car so shiny you can see the reflection of every drop of drool falling from your mouth. You roll your tongue up, tuck it safely back in your mouth, and proceed to make one of the dumbest, most impulsive decisions of your life.

You buy the thing right there on the spot, and drive it home to your dumbstruck and appalled husband/wife/significant other/creditors.

Don't be ashamed; it's happened to many of us. You were attacked by showroom anxiety, and you lost the battle.

The good news is that you can overcome showroom anxiety. You can even prevent it from attacking altogether. That's right―the next time you're in the market for a sensible, affordable vehicle, or even the next time you're on your commute home from work, you can ward off showroom anxiety. All you have to do is prepare yourself ahead of time.

Know how to act before you enter the showroom, while you're in the showroom, and after you leave the showroom. Actually, this is the kind of preparation you should do whenever you're dealing with a vehicle purchase.

Before the Showroom

Preparing yourself and knowing what to expect can remove most of the anxiety associated with buying a new car.

Here are several things you can do before heading to the showroom floor that will help you with negotiations to get the best deal possible:

  • Set a monthly budget, and don't exceed this number.
  • Check with your lender to see how large of a loan you qualify for.
  • Determine how much of a down payment you plan to put down.
    • Consider your trade-in value. You'll negotiate trade-in prices at the dealership.
    • Know your vehicle's worth by researching at an online valuation site.
  • Research cars in your price range.
    • Compare and contrast features of several vehicles. Read reviews and road tests.
    • Estimate the total cost, including:
      • Additional warranties.
      • Financing charges.
      • Insurance rates.
  • Look around for any vehicles with cash rebates or other incentives.
    • Secret rebates that are not marketed to the public and are direct-to-dealer incentives are often available for slow-selling or overstocked vehicles.
    • Check car pricing sites to see what's available in your area.
  • Establish a target price.
    • For each of the vehicles you consider, determine the price you are willing to pay.
    • This price should fall between the manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) and the dealer's invoice price.
  • Make a list of all the vehicles fitting your needs and price range.

In the Showroom

After you've done your research and you're well-informed about what you can afford and which cars offer the best value, head to the dealership.

Once you're there, follow these rules before agreeing to a sale to avoid a rush decision:

  • Test-drive the vehicle.
    • While you're driving, look at the vehicle as objectively as possible.
    • Make a list of each of the things you like and dislike about the vehicle.
  • Visit several dealerships before making a decision.
    • This will keep you from making a rash choice or purchasing the first car you see before comparing with others.
  • Negotiate the MSRP.
    • Don't budge from the bottom line number you decided on during your research before heading to the show room.
    • If you aren't able to negotiate the price you want, walk away. The salesman may contact you to renegotiate.
      • If not, there are plenty of other options at other dealerships that may be more willing to work with you on the lowering the overall price.
    • Compare your financing with the dealership financing option.
      • Don't depend on the dealership financing services.
      • Compare what they're offering with the loan you've been approved for by your bank or other lender for the best deal possible.
  • Discuss the trade-in value.
    • Do this after negotiating the sale price for the vehicle. Remember—the sale price and the trade-in are separate transactions.
    • The value of your used car should be negotiated in the same way you are negotiating the price of the new vehicle.
      • Walk away if you aren't getting fair value.
  • Consider which vehicle offers the best value.
    • Take however much time you need to make a decision and don't be pressured by the salesman.

After the Showroom

Once you've agreed to purchase a vehicle, you'll move off the showroom floor to the manager's office. The purchase isn't completed until all the paperwork has been signed.

Here are a few things to remember as you close the deal:

  • Carefully read all the documents presented to you.
    • Make sure the numbers you're presented with match the numbers you negotiated on the showroom.
  • Never drive a car off the lot before completing all the necessary paperwork.
  • Consider any additional warranties.
    • If it's a brand new car, the manufacturer's warranty should cover the car.
  • Look for any charges that don't make sense that have been included in the contract.
    • Prep or advertising costs are the dealer's costs, not yours.
  • Don't agree to any optional high-costs services, such as:
    • Rust proofing.
    • Credit insurance.
    • Fabric protection.
    • Paint sealant.
    • Service agreements.
  • Shop around for insurance.
    • Just as you've done with the purchase of your car, research insurance companies for the best deal possible.

It's important to keep this last point in mind—once you do make a vehicle purchase, you'll also need insurance for it. You can learn everything you need to know about getting a good deal with a quick visit to our insurance center.

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