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I now know firsthand that going to a car dealership is…an experience.

I went going exactly what car I wanted and I imagine that if you don’t know that much it’ll be easier for a dealership to screw you over when you get there by feeding you misinformation about a car, manipulating you into buying a more expensive model, and etc.

I had already done all my research online so I knew what I wanted. Down to the color. (Green is my favorite color!)

So boyfriend and I went (I followed Tumblr’s advice about bringing a man lol). And I test drove the car and loved it just like I knew I would. And THEN the real dealership experience began.

The bottomline is that I knew my credit score and so I knew what kind of interest rate (APR) I should expect. I also knew the manufacturer price of the car (MSRP) and I knew how much they were selling for on average in my area ($3k less than MSRP).

So I knew what I was going to pay and I had already decided on that in my head.

So dealer #1 (a white guy–this is relevant to mention lol) brings back the first set of numbers. He cushions it with making small talk and flattering me on starting my PhD in August. He also chats up boyfriend.

The numbers were bad. I could tell looking at it. Although they didn’t say the APR, I knew that my monthly rate shouldn’t be that high based on the number of months I’d be paying it. Also they only gave me $2k off MSRP.

I noted that the sticker price was too high because I can go to another dealer and get it cheaper and they knocked off another $1k.

And then I asked him what the APR was. He was very evasive and kept telling me to look at the monthly payments because that’s what “really matters.” No, what really matters is what I’m paying for the car overall which is the sticker price + state fees (unavoidable) + interest rate.

Dealer #1 finally told me the APR and it was 3x the rate I knew I was eligible for. I told him that’s not gonna work. He turned aggressive and said that I’m a first time buyer and I can’t expect better and that I’m being unrealistic to expect a lower rate and etc etc.

So I said that my bank quoted me a rate half that much and I’ll just go through them and buy later (at a different dealer). Because I want the car but there’s 2 other places I can go to get it in my area.

Then all of a sudden dealer #1 could get me a better APR. His next offer was 2x what I wanted to pay. I said nah that good enough.

Then they brought out dealer #2, who was a Black guy. He didn’t sit down and instantly start talking about the price. He said a bunch of small talk and said some stuff about being Black lol. Tryna be chummy chummy and connect with us on a racial level.

Then he tried to push the same numbers as dealer #1. I said I know I’m young and I don’t have a math background but you’re charging me way too much for this car and I’m not going to buy it at that price. Period. I said: get the APR down and I’ll buy the car. He kept telling me it wasn’t possible and I said okay…I won’t buy it.

But then he was like wait…lemme run the numbers. And ta da! He came back with the right APR. Also zero down. And payments lower than my target.

This whole process took 5 hours.

Moral of the story:

– know as much as you can before going to a dealership so you can focus on the numbers
– know your credit score so you know what your APR should be
– get approved through an independent bank for a loan so you have leverage to negotiate with a better rate from the dealer
– don’t focus on monthly payments. Times that by the amount of months so you know what you’re REALLY paying
– threaten to walk because stuff magically happens at dealerships when you do lol

YES. and I will also swear by The Toast’s How to Buy a Car Without Interacting With a Human

All these horror stories about car dealerships just do that much more to keep me on motorcycles.