The RAIN Method for Buying a Car

Last week we went over safety considerations when car shopping, so this week we thought we’d add to that with some overall vehicle thoughts.

Did you know the average cost of a new vehicle today is around $30,000? Whether you want a shiny, new car or are content with a reliable used ride, you want to get the most for your money. The actual process of researching, finding, financing and buying that car doesn’t need to be scary or intimidating. In fact the process can be broken down into a simple acronym: RAIN.

After you have met with a loan officer at Liberty Savings and have your financing secured, you are ready for the RAIN technique:

    • Research
    • Ask questions
    • Investigate/Inspect
    • Negotiate

Research – In this step you will use information from publications like Consumer Reports, Kelley Blue Book and other sources to make sure the vehicle you are looking at is a wise choice. Check out the reliability of the vehicle to make sure it is wise investment.

Use the buyer’s guide to find out pricing of the vehicles you are looking at. It’s easy to find the sticker or retail price, but make it a goal to find out the wholesale price as well. The wholesale price is what the dealership paid minus any rebates, hold-backs or incentives. This information will help you negotiate when the time is right.

Ask -There are a lot of costs associated with vehicle ownership–insurance is a major one. Contact an insurance company and find out the rates you can expect with the vehicle you are looking at. Not all makes and models have the same rates, and knowing this could save money in the long run.

Insurance is just one of the additional expense with owning a vehicle. It’s also good to ask the dealership for information about the average cost of upkeep. This information is critical as you examine the overall costs of the purchase you are going to make.

Investigate & inspect – If you are considering a brand new car, you will go to the dealership and investigate it. Be sure the salesperson knows that on this trip you will be test driving only and not looking to make a deal quite yet. This is your opportunity to get a feel for the car. Is it the one that is going to meet your needs? How does it handle? Will you be happy with it for years to come? It’s also a good idea to test drive multiple cars to make sure you’re comfortable when driving.

If you are in search of a used vehicle, the inspection process is very important. Even if you have limited knowledge of automobiles, everyone can conduct a basic inspection. Check out the exterior and interior. Take it for a test drive and see how it handles, how it accelerates and how it brakes. When this inspection process is complete and if this is a car you are serious about, take it to a certified mechanic for a full diagnostic check. It may cost you a little to do this, but you will get a detailed report of the condition or a list of problem areas and the cost to fix them. This will be helpful for your last step.

Negotiate – For many the negotiation process is the most intimidating. Everyone wants to pay the least, but every sales person is looking to make the most. Pick out two to three dealerships to visit while you’re shopping. After doing the test drives and weighing your options, you now have multiple places to purchase.

A good way to take the pressure off of you is to tell the salesperson that you have other dealerships you will be visiting and the one that offers the best deal will be getting your business. It’s fine to ask, “What is the lowest price you can offer on this vehicle?” and take that number to other dealerships. See which offer comes in the best. If you still aren’t happy with the offers, you may share what you think is fair based on the research you have done. If they say no, feel free to move on.

Purchasing a vehicle can be a pretty big expense in your life. Being prepared is key to getting the best deal. Following the RAIN steps will help you tremendously. Always remember, Liberty Savings is here to provide not only loans and insurance, but also education and support for any purchase. If you’re not sure where to start, or still have questions about a vehicle purchase, contact us today and we’ll be happy to answer any questions.

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