The RAIN Method for Buying a Car

The average cost of a new vehicle today is around $30,000. Whether you desire the shiny, brand-new ride or if you are content with a reliable used car, you still want to get the most for your money. The actual process of finding, researching, financing, and buying a car does not need to be scary or intimidating. In fact there is an effective technique for making the right purchase. It’s called RAIN. RAIN is an acronym for Research, Ask questions, Investigate or Inspect, and Negotiate.

Research
In this step, you use information from publications like Consumer Reports, Kelley Blue Book, and other resources to make sure the vehicle you are looking at is a wise choice and a reliable investment. You also need to use the buyer’s guide to find pricing of the vehicles you are looking at. It is easy to find the sticker or retail price, but your goal should be to find out the wholesale price which is the price the dealership paid minus any rebates, hold-backs, or incentives. The wholesale price is the price you will use to negotiate when the time is right. Also, make sure you research more than one vehicle option. Having interest in numerous car options at various dealerships will provide a larger arena for negotiating a price.

Ask
You should contact the insurance company and find out the rates you can expect with the vehicle you are looking at along with a quote from your insurance agent. There are a lot of costs associated with owning a vehicle and insurance is a major one. You should also ask the dealership for information regarding the average cost of upkeep. This information is critical as you examine the overall costs of the purchase you are going to make.

Investigate or Inspect
If you are considering a brand-new car, you should go to the dealership and investigate it. Be sure the salesperson knows that on this trip you plan to test drive only and that you are not ready to make a deal quite yet. This is your opportunity to get a feel for various car options. As you investigate your potential purchase, think about if each vehicle meets your needs, handles well, and if it will keep you happy in the long run.

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 of your vehicle options. Make sure you take each car for a test drive so you can see how it handles, how it accelerates, and how it brakes. When your inspection is complete and if you are serious about purchasing one of the vehicles, take it to a certified mechanic for a full-car diagnostic. It may cost you $100, but it gives you a detailed report of the car’s condition along with a list of problem areas and the costs to fix those problems. Also, a full diagnostic will help with your last step of negotiating price. Remember to make sure you have more than one vehicle option – each from a different dealership. This will also help with negotiation.

Negotiate
For many, the negotiation process is intimidating. Everyone wants to get the best deal – including salespeople. A good way to take the pressure off of you is to inform each salesperson that you are interested in more than one vehicle at different dealerships and that the dealer with the best offer will get your business. Take all numbers that each dealership gives you and see which offer is the best.If you are not happy with the offers, share your thoughts on what you consider to be a fair price based on your research. If the dealer says no, move on. 

Purchasing a vehicle is probably going to be the second largest expenditure in your life. Being prepared is key to getting the best deal. Following these steps will help you tremendously. Always remember, DoverPhila Federal Credit Union can provide not only the best financial deal for you, but they can also provide support, guidance, and education.