Car Shopping? Know Your Profile to Get the Best Deal

Man looking at car
Photo by Nestor Rizhniak / Shutterstock.com

Spring auto shopping is underway — and as clever, as unique, as savvy as you think you are, you likely fit into one of three car buyer profiles:

  1. Beeliners: These are the buyers who know exactly what they want and make a beeline for the make and model.
  1. Bargain hunters: These are very cost-conscious buyers. They compare as many listed prices on various models as they can find.
  1. Deal makers: Yes, bargain hunters are cost-conscious, but deal makers go beyond those frugal buyers. Deal makers look for low prices and then seek to make deals that take the prices even lower.

This is according to the oft-quoted Rick Wainschel, AutoTrader’s vice president of automotive insights, according to Ward’s Auto. And according to his analysis, getting the best deal means being aware of how you shop for a vehicle.

So, consider: Which one are you? Deciding will help you find the best car at the best price for your shopping style. Here are five expert shopping tips tailored for different types of car shoppers:

1. Compare

This advice is especially important for bargain hunters and deal makers:

Yes, we know you research styles and prices. But what about safety? Do you know there is an array of passive safety features (such as air bags) and active safety features (such as lane-departure warning signals)? Which ones are included on the model you’re eyeing? What about warranties? What service, if any, is included in the purchase price? All of the variables should be considered before you decide on a specific model at a dealership, noted Kelley Blue Book (KBB). Don’t assume you know what is included in the purchase price. Research it.

2. Talk to owners

This is for you, beeliners:

We’ve all spoken to people who are die-hard lovers of a certain brand of car. But the models rolling off assembly lines today might be different from those of yesteryear. New materials, new technology and other tweaks have left some buyers disappointed. Don’t just read expert reviews about cars. Talk to owners of the current model you consider — whether through on social media or friends — to ensure the car you covet is really the one for you, recommended KBB.

3. Consider a preowned car

Good for beeliners, bargain hunters and deal makers:

Even if you’re a die-hard new car buyer, you surely know that used cars are generally a much better bargain. That’s especially true when car manufacturers don’t make major changes to a car between model years. Many times you’ll find that a manufacturer’s changes are so minor, they are rarely outlined. Consider a certified preowned (CPO) car, recommended AutoTrader. You’ll save thousands on a lightly used car with a full warranty (sometimes a warranty might even top that of a new car) and receive extras (satellite radio, enhanced wheels) also without added cost.

4. Remain flexible

This addresses you, especially, deal makers:

It’s a rare auto dealer who doesn’t have perfectly good cars on the lot that just aren’t moving. And dealers need to move those cars — whether they’re new or used — to make way for new stock. Ask to see the car that the dealer has in stock rather than asking for a special order or dealer trade. You’ll likely find dealers are much more willing to bargain on cars they have in stock than those that require them to order or trade, reported AutoTrader.

5. Simplify comparisons

Here’s a tip for you, bargain hunters:

It’s difficult to figure out which car dealer offers a better price because of the various options on models. One way to better understand the prices offered by different dealers is to ask how much the price is over invoice, advised Edmunds.

“In other words, if a salesperson says the car is $23,457, you can ask, ‘How much over invoice is that?’ The answer might be that it’s $500 over invoice,” Edmunds wrote. “Using the ‘amount over’ invoice, you can then assume that, even when the options change, the price will be about the same in relationship to the invoice price of the vehicle. This is a handy way to simplify pricing and make accurate comparisons.”

Sure, it’s great to find a car at a bargain price. But before you commit, consider this caveat from former car salesperson Matt Jones, Edmunds’ Senior Consumer Advice editor: “Make sure you really like the car you’re buying and that it really meets your needs,” he wrote. “It sounds so obvious, but go check how many one- and two-year-old used cars sit on car lots. Most of them are trade-ins from people who just bought the wrong car. Take your time and make the right choice.”

Otherwise, your bargain might not be a bargain, no matter your shopper profile and skills.

What type of car shopper are you and how has that worked out for you? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

How to find cheaper car insurance in minutes

Getting a better deal on car insurance doesn't have to be hard. You can have The Zebra, an insurance comparison site compare quotes in just a few minutes and find you the best rates. Consumers save an average of $368 per year, according to the site, so if you're ready to secure your new rate, get started now.

Read Next
7 Reasons You Should Change Careers After Age 50
7 Reasons You Should Change Careers After Age 50

Many older workers have the energy and experience to make a successful career change.

9 Houseplants That Remove Toxins From Your Indoor Air
9 Houseplants That Remove Toxins From Your Indoor Air

These plants may also do everything from reduce the amount of dust in your home to improve your productivity.

6 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare
6 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare

These services could save you money and help prevent costly health problems.

5 Memberships That Offer Car Insurance Discounts
5 Memberships That Offer Car Insurance Discounts

These discounts may save you hundreds — even thousands — of dollars a year.

How Baby Boomers Are Earning an Extra $573 a Month
How Baby Boomers Are Earning an Extra $573 a Month

In the gig economy, baby boomers are out-hustling their younger competition. You can cash in, too.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
Will I Get My Ex-Husband’s Social Security When He Dies?
Will I Get My Ex-Husband’s Social Security When He Dies?

Two factors determine how much money is coming to you.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

21 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store
21 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store

Dollar stores have great bargains on these familiar purchases. Yes, even pregnancy tests.

13 Brilliant Bulk-Buy Items on Amazon
13 Brilliant Bulk-Buy Items on Amazon

Every household should have these products on hand. Buying them in bulk on Amazon saves you cash.

6 Reasons I Will Never Trust Suze Orman
6 Reasons I Will Never Trust Suze Orman

Beware: The self-proclaimed personal finance expert has a track record that suggests more sizzle than steak.

5 Household Disinfectants That Can Destroy the Coronavirus
5 Household Disinfectants That Can Destroy the Coronavirus

You likely already have some of these products at home.

America’s Most Reliable Appliance Brand Is a Surprise
America’s Most Reliable Appliance Brand Is a Surprise

Have you heard of this appliance manufacturer?

This Type of Social Security Benefit Is Often Overlooked
This Type of Social Security Benefit Is Often Overlooked

The Social Security Administration is not helping certain people get money to which they are entitled, a report says.

Getting These 2 Shots Could Reduce Your Risk of Dementia
Getting These 2 Shots Could Reduce Your Risk of Dementia

These vaccines may lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by up to 40%.

9 Everyday Problems You Can Solve With Vaseline
9 Everyday Problems You Can Solve With Vaseline

Forget expensive specialty products. Good ol’ petroleum jelly can address many common annoyances.

16 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
16 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

19 Purchases That Buyers Almost Always Regret
19 Purchases That Buyers Almost Always Regret

Think twice before buying these things.

7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile
7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile

A pandemic or natural disaster could leave you reliant on your existing food supply. Is your pantry prepared?

8 of the Worst Things to Buy at a Dollar Store
8 of the Worst Things to Buy at a Dollar Store

Not everything sold at dollar stores is a great bargain or a safe purchase. Here’s our list of products to avoid.

41 Things You Should Never Buy
41 Things You Should Never Buy

Some purchases are just plain dumb. Give yourself — and your budget — a break. Don’t spend money on this stuff.

Homeowners Say These 2 Kitchen Appliance Brands Are Best
Homeowners Say These 2 Kitchen Appliance Brands Are Best

One brand takes five of the top honors, while another ranks highest in three categories.

9 Indestructible Products That Are Worth the Price
9 Indestructible Products That Are Worth the Price

If you’re willing to pay a little more for these products, you may never have to shop for another again.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.