Last updated on November 28, 2018 at 01:54 pm
You don’t need to spend an entire day at a car dealership to buy your next car. We’ll help you learn how to buy a car over email with some general steps and give you six things to include in your email to the dealer.
Does this work? Yes, it absolutely can! I bought my last car over email (… and one phone call). I spent a total of 1.5 hours at the dealer and paid a price that I was happy with. Why not give it a shot?
Your actual experience buying a car this way will be unique. This is a general guide to introduce you to negotiating for a car over email. Let’s get started:
- Take a look at your finances. First things, first – you need to set your own financial limits. Check your personal budget to figure out how much car you can afford and how much you have for a down payment. This will help narrow your search for a make/model.
- Figure out what kind of car you want. Now that you have a price range, start looking for makes and models that you want, along with any options. If you’re confused by window sticker lingo, we’ve demystified that for you. Just remember, you may have to live with this car for some years ahead, so finding a car you want may be more important than the deal you get. You’re going to spend many commutes sitting in that driver’s seat …
- Test drive your chosen makes and models. Find the most convenient dealers for you to do this. Make it clear you’re just there to test drive and are still considering several different cars. It’s the sales staff’s job to close the deal, right then and there. Be firm that you’re not ready to buy today and walk away when you’re done. This is all about narrowing your focus to the car you’ll eventually buy.
- Research figures. Head to sites like KBB.com or Edmunds.com to get an idea of what people are paying for your car. You should be able to get a decent ballpark figure. Make sure you’re putting in the details for the exact car you want to buy, including options. Research the costs with and without options so you have everything in case the dealers don’t have those options.
- Get financing. If you need financing, get approved for a loan by your bank. Some banks will give you a “blank check” up to an agreed upon limit. This is so you can go to the dealership and essentially do a cash deal. You can always get financing at the dealership if they have a better deal. It’s always better to be prepared.
- Send “the email.” Find all of the dealers within a reasonable distance that sell the car you’re after. Many will have their inventory online, including color, the color of the seats, options etc. Send their sales team an email. Let them know:
- You’ve picked out a specific car and model and you’ve already done a test drive.
- You’re ready to buy right now.
- Any deal is contingent upon a satisfactory test drive of the actual car you’re buying.
- That you’re preapproved for financing, but you can go through the dealer if they have a similar or better rate.
- You want their best out-the-door, all-inclusive final price (make sure it includes taxes and fees), and give them 24 hours to respond.
- You want a copy of the window sticker and VIN number before you give a deposit via credit card to secure the car (you’ll want to know they actually have the car). In my case, the deposit was small ($500), but made in good faith. I knew I wanted to buy this car, so it was no problem for me.
- Line up your insurance. Before you head to the dealership to buy your car, touch base with your insurer and let them know you’ll be purchasing a new vehicle. You’ll want to work something out with your agent or customer service representative to ensure that if you do ink the deal, you can insure your new car before you leave the lot. If you have the VIN, make and model, your agent or rep may be able to get started on some of the changes. This may also be a good time to update your policy. Here’s a helpful list of insurance terms to know.
And that’s it! It’s important to know that not all dealers will respond to your email. And some of them will be hesitant to give you an out-the-door price … they’ll just assume you’ll take it and try to get a better deal elsewhere. But, dealers still have to move metal. You should be able to get more than a few to play ball and save yourself a lot of time.