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Steps to Buying Or Leasing a New Car
by Laura Ryan

I have been involved in the automobile industry in the metro Denver area for more than 11 years, and it has always amazed me that the experience of buying a new car is not exciting for most people, but rather is a process to be feared and dreaded.

There are some issues that just arenapostrophet going to go away (at least in the short term) such as arranging financing, the process of trading in our previous vehicle, the amount of time that it takes to complete the purchase or lease transaction and the decision on whether to buy "value-added" services such as extended warranties from the dealer.

Iapostrophed like to work through this whole process step-by-step, from the first thought, "Maybe I need a new car", all the way through to the next car we start thinking about down the road. I am an insider in the business, so I will tell you what really goes on, answer any questions to the best of my ability, and I welcome comments from the public as well as others in the auto industry.

What makes us start thinking about a new or replacement vehicle in the first place? Some of us just moved here from a larger city where we never needed a car of our own, so we are looking for our first car. Some are just starting to drive, maybe teenagers in high school, and their parents are buying them a first vehicle. Maybe our previous car is too small, too big, poor fuel economy, not enough seats, destroyed in an accident or just plain worn out and canapostrophet be repaired anymore. A new baby (or two or three) can trigger this change, as well as children leaving home. Longer commute, donapostrophet need to haul or tow anymore; need to start towing or hauling. Just want to help save the environment with a hybrid vehicle. Inherited a car that doesnapostrophet fit our needs, just got "car fever" and want to scratch the itch. There are lots of reasons to buy a newer vehicle! Whatapostrophes the next step?

Step One: How can I buy a new or pre-owned vehicle from a dealership without all of the aggravation?

Car dealerships have long suffered from a bad reputation. Many of us believe, deep down, that all car dealers are crooks, and we would rather have a root canal or be sued than have to go through the process of buying a new or used car from a dealership again. Why does this process have to be so irritating?

Letapostrophes examine some ways to make this whole process a lot easier and less intimidating.

Step One: Get a referral. You donapostrophet want to work with someone you donapostrophet know, like or trust, so ask around and get the name of someone reliable in the car business whom your sister, neighbor, co-worker or friend worked with, and whom they recommend. It is easy to find stories about bad experiences at car dealerships. If you ask, though, you will find that lots of people you know HAVE had at least one great experience – itapostrophes just human nature to tell more people about problems than about the good times.

Donapostrophet start this process without at least one solid contact name and phone number.

Even if you are not interested in the same brand as your friend who had the great experience, go ahead and get that contact information anyway (do try for a contact in the same town or metropolitan area where you plan to shop!) The car industry is a small world, and chances are excellent that the outstanding salesperson who helped your friend with her new Honda knows someone of like personality at the local Subaru or Toyota store. A true professional in auto sales will be happy to answer your general car questions and steer you in the right direction. After all, the Subaru professional will reciprocate by sending his clients who are more interested in a new Honda back to the Honda representative. The Honda representative also knows that if she treats you professionally, you will send her your friends who ARE interested in a Honda in the future.

A side note here: You will not benefit by going "straight to the top" and speaking directly to one of the managers at the dealership. You will probably get a price on the car that interests you (there is no telling if that is the "best" price) but the manager will not actually be working with you himself. He is too busy to give you his undivided attention, and will "turn you" over to a salesperson to finish up the process and required paperwork; that salesperson could be the most professional salesperson in the store - but is much more likely to be whoever happens to be standing closest to the phone when you call. Is that a better way to have a great experience than just driving onto the lot and taking your chances with the "huddle"? I donapostrophet think so.

Step Two: Whatapostrophes next, after you get a good referral?