Surviving The Dealership's Business Office
After you've agreed to a selling price - whether through negotiating or the Internet or the Fleet Department -- you'll be ushered into the Business Office. Here, you have to be careful. Remember that the Business Manager is, most likely, a salesperson working on commission.
Here's what you need to know to survive the Business Office:
1. This is the place to discuss your financing.
And the best way for you to handle this important subject depends on what type of financing you may have or have not arranged.
- Pre-Approved Financing
If you pre-arranged your financing through your bank, credit union or online financier, tell the Business Manager your interest rate. Ask her if she can beat it. The Business Manager usually has several sources of financing and may even have a financing "special." If she can beat it, look at the financing details and choose which financing offer works best for you. By comparing financing offers, you know you'll be getting the best possible deal.
2. Read the fine print.
- Dealership Financing
If you're getting your financing through the dealership, ask the Business Manager about your interest rate. If you feel that it's too high, ask her to lower it. She may protest, telling you that you are a credit risk - and she has a good point. You are a risk or else you would have gotten financing from a bank or credit union. But if you still feel that the rate is unreasonably high, tell her so. She may drop it a bit and that will save you some money in the long run.
The Business Manager will ask you to sign pages of sales contracts and ownership documents. Look these papers over very carefully. Double-check all figures. Be certain that the selling price is exactly what you agreed to. Be certain, too, that the rebate (if there is one) is listed correctly. And if you don't understand something that you are asked to sign, have the Business Manager explain it to you.
3. Think twice about all those "extras."
As you're signing the contracts, the Business Manager will probably offer you several "extras" and "add-ons" that will add "mere pennies a day" to your monthly payments. And she'll make each one sound very attractive and very important. She hopes that you'll buy at least one or two since she earns a nice commission if you do. Here's a likely list of the "extras" she may offer you and the "inside scoop" on each one:
- Extended Service Warranty
All new cars and trucks come with comprehensive warranties backed by the manufacturer. And it's most likely that any factory defects on your vehicle will show up within the manufacturer's warranty period. So you don't need to purchase an Extended Service Warranty. These expensive warranties rarely, if ever, pay off.
- Paint Protection
This is usually nothing more than a fancy wax job designed to make you "ooh-and-aah" when you see your shiny new car. What they don't tell you is that you will probably have to apply the "rejuvenator cream" - in other words, more of the same wax - every few months. You can save yourself money by buying a polymer sealant car wax at your local auto parts store and applying it yourself.
- Fabric Protection
The Business Manager will probably point out the five-year warranty that comes with the Fabric Protection: "Your car's seats and carpeting will never stain." You can buy a can of fabric protection (such as Scotchgard) at your local auto parts store and spray it on your car's interior fabrics yourself.
Most new vehicles get rustproofing in the factory. And most new vehicles come with an extensive rust perforation warranty. Therefore, dealer-applied rustproofing is unnecessary and may even harm the factory rustproofing.
All new cars and trucks receive a standard undercoating treatment in the factory. You don't need to pay twice for it.
- Window Etching
This is an "anti-crime system" in which the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of your vehicle is etched into the windshield glass thereby making it easier, they claim, to identify your car if it is stolen. Forget about it. This is a worthless money-making scheme. If Window Etching was pre-applied to your car, refuse to pay for it.
The Business Manager may offer you health, life and/or disability insurance. If you need insurance coverage, go to an insurance agency.
- Vehicle Tracking System - Recommended
Usually sold under a brand name such as LoJack, this amazing system includes a tiny radio transmitter that is hidden in the body of your car. If your car is stolen, you call a special number to activate the system. Immediately, your car begins to emit silent radio signals. The thief is unaware he's driving a car that's sending out tracking signals -- but the police are very aware. They can instantly locate your car on their radar screens and most thieves are caught red-handed within one hour. Vehicle Tracking Systems are a great idea and many insurance companies will offer you a discount if you install one on your car. (Ask your insurance company about this.) If every car had one of these, there would be no more auto theft.
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